(This is a repost from 2011, but I know I'll never forget that day)
When I was in Junior High School I wanted to be an astronaut. The guidance counselor would try to persuade me to not try for it because they hire so few a year, blah, blah, blah (yeah...wonderfully encouraging man...). I was also in 8th grade when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. I was sitting in typing class when our science teacher, Mr. Nause, knocked on the door and called our typing teacher, Ms. Miller, out of the room.
Ms. Miller was a jokester. She was a bit harsh too...not all of her jokes were the most pleasant, i.e. - telling kids with dimples that they were birth defects, etc. I didn't mind her. In fact I enjoyed her class, if not her humor (and I have dimples!). So a couple minutes later she came back into the classroom and told us that the Challenger exploded. The class laughed uneasily. Everyone figured that with her sense of humor she was trying to make a joke, and we knew that you always laughed at her jokes! She repeated it several times, but couldn't convince us. She had to leave the room and get Mr. Nause to come back in and tell us that she wasn't joking. Needless to say there was silence after that.
The period ended a few minutes later and it was time for gym class. My gym teacher (I don't remember her name) sat in the gymnasium with the radio on listening to the news about the disaster. There were only about 5 of us that sat there with her and listened and cried while everyone else did who knows what. It pretty much ended up being a free period for them. Here are some balls go do something.
There are three tragedies that occurred during my life that I feel certain I will remember for the rest of my life. This is one of them. How absolutely heart-breaking to think of their families (and I somehow always do think of the families when tragedy happens), and how terrible it was for Mrs. McAuliffe's class to be there watching it happened. I hope they will be remembered for what they are. Heroes making the way into the great unknown. Explorers. Trail-blazers.
Do you remember where you were?
Rest in Peace:
Ellison S. Onizuka - Mission Specialist - from Kona, HI. First Asian American to in space. LTC, USAF
Sharon Christa McAuliffe - Crew Member, "Teacher in Space Program" - from Concord, NH. Was selected from over 11,000 applicants to be the first teacher in space.
Greg Jarvis - Payload Specialist - born in Detroit, MI. CPT, USAF
Judy Resnik - Mission Specialist - born Akron, OH. Second American woman and second Jewish person in space.
Michael J. Smith - Pilot - born Beaufort, NC. CPT, USN
Dick Scobee - Commander - born Cle Elum, WA. LTC, USAF (Vietnam veteran. Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal)
Ron McNair - Physicist - born Lake City, SC. Second African-American in space. Black belt & Saxophonist.
For more information on these heroes, please check out the NASA website.