Friday, January 28, 2011

25 years ago

I woke up this morning with a bit of chest congestion and a slightly sore throat. It was not enough to stay home from work over, but 25 years ago today, I skipped school over similar symptoms. I remember this, because I remember staying home from school and turning on the TV and watching the space shuttle launch. And then watching it explode. Odd how you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing at these moments.

On my way to work this morning, I heard a touching memorial to one of the Challenger crew, Ron McNair, offered by his brother Carl. I recommend reading or listening to the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:

As youngsters, a show came on TV called Star Trek. Now, Star Trek showed the future — where there were black folk and white folk working together. I just looked at it as science fiction, 'cause that wasn't going to happen, really.

But Ronald saw it as science possibility. So how was a colored boy from South Carolina — wearing glasses, never flew a plane — how was he gonna become an astronaut? But Ron was one who didn't accept societal norms as being his norm, you know? That was for other people. And he got to be aboard his own Starship Enterprise.

This photo from The Big Picture of teacher Christa McAuliffe shows her excitement over traveling to space. She was wearing that grin in pretty much every photo.

Teachers are real-life superheroes, in my opinion. McAuliffe was just hero enough to be chosen to teach an important lesson from an enormous classroom.

Thank you, Ron, Christa, and crew, for your courage and for your legacy.


  1. Like! Oh, wait, this isn't FB.

    Very well said! I remember being in school (our class didn't watch it) when everything suddenly stopped and everyone gathered around what few tvs were available. They were true heroes.

  2. Great post. I remember our Algebra II teacher borrowing a TV on a cart from the library, but by the time she turned it on the disaster had already happened. To the general population, shuttle flights had become common, but it still required uncommon bravery by the crews.

  3. It's amazing how our age affects the personal impact of historical events.

    When I was a little kid I was really into space. Obsessively into it, enough that most people were sure the interest would last till adulthood and I'd grow up to be an astronaut.

    Anyways, the Challenger disaster was a week before my fourth birthday. Naturally, I watched the news footage over and over. And naturally, at that age, I was just excited about the space shuttle and completely failed to grasp the gravity of what had happened. So, as my mom planned my birthday party for the next week, I insisted on a "space-shuttle-that-blew-up" themed party.

    In the end, I settled for Winnie the Pooh.

  4. FG: Space shuttle that blew up versus anthropomorphic bear that wears a shirt but no pants. I'm not sure which theme is more disturbing. Either way, the world would be a much more entertaining place if four year olds were allowed to make party theme decisions without their parents' input.

  5. I was a senior in high school, my physics teacher was one of those that made it deep in the selection process, it was pretty painful to watch, I remember I was signing up for classes for my last semester of high school.

    Besides the absolute tragedy of that day and the Columbia tragedy (which has it's anniversary tomorrow) This 25 year anniversary reminds me that I am getting old.