Friday, January 28, 2011

25th Anniversary of the Challenger tragedy

So, the word about town is it's the 25th anniversary of the Challenger explosion. Click here for a good article with pics and vids over at Gizmodo.

I remember exactly where I was when it happened. I was in 3rd period science class in 9th grade.

I remember my teacher, Mrs. Allen, wheeling in the TV cart—there weren't laptops or video projectors available at the time. My science teacher was so excited that she wanted all 20 of us to be quiet when they weren't really saying anything on the TV that was important.

I remember the teacher in the next class came over to watch as well, bringing his students into our already crowded classroom. Now there were around 40 of us.

I remember being pretty interested in the launch. Not because I was a space fanatic but just because I always wanted to fly and space launch was pretty close and probably fantastic in itself. I also just like seeing rockets launch. I'm a boy. What else do we care about at that age but electronics, sports and planes/rockets (I liked girls too but that's another story).

I remember the count down.

I remember it starting to lift off.

I remember the flames and all the smoke coming out of the rockets.

I remember how cool it looked on the 27-inch tube TV.

I remember it getting higher and higher.

I remember seeing this quick, smokey explosion thinking this was when the booster rockets separated.

I remember seeing the two booster rockets bow away from the cloud of smoke between them and start to wiggle into their own random flight pattern.

I remember not seeing the shuttle continue its ascent.

I remember my teacher looking at the other teacher wondering what had happened. Both were confused.

I remember silence in the classroom. Then...

I remember the commentator saying something like, "Where is the Challenger?" and "They seemed to have lost contact with the Challenger" and then after a few minutes or ten, the realization happened. NASA reports that the Challenger space shuttle has exploded and all crew members have perished.

I remember Mrs. Allen crying, subtly at first and then somewhat hysterically. She bolted out the classroom door into the hall and continued to cry.

I remember Mrs. Allen composing herself and then wheeling the TV cart back out to the hall and into another room where she and a few other teachers continued to watch the drama. I think it was smart of her to do this for the students and her as well.

I remember going home later in the day and knowing what had transpired but it really not affecting me personally. I knew it was tragic. I knew it was historical. But what did a 14-yr-old boy really care about in the world?

As a mature adult, I look back and I feel for the families of the crew. I understand this now as I have a family of my own that I care for and raise. I also see that if I was a kid and my mother/father had the opportunity to go into space it would be the fucking coolest thing EVER! In fact as a parent, if my child had that opportunity, it would still be the fucking coolest thing but I would worry in the back of my mind.

So, as an old guy, I say to those young and old: Remember the events in your life directly and indirectly, big and small, because one day you will say, "That was the fucking coolest thing...EVER!"

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