Saturday, January 28, 2012

26 Years Ago: The Challenger

From last year's post:

When I was five, I remember with excitement - along with all my other Kindergarten classmates - preparing to watch the first teacher, Christa McAuliffe, fly into space aboard the shuttle Challenger.

Schools across the country gathered their students, turned on the television to watch a teacher, one of our great educators, fulfill every child's dream of going to space, of traveling somewhere so foreign.

For 72 seconds, they were "normal" astronauts, lifting towards the stars. The next second, they disappeared.

For many of us young children, it was perhaps our first experience with death, that incomprehensible moment when a person, full of vitality and spirit, is here and then suddenly gone. I don't know if I understood the magnitude of that explosion, the arcing and billowing smoke. I knew it was not right.

How awkward it must have been for our teachers left on earth, left to face horror-struck children, left to try and explain what had happened.

We are all little moments in time. Beautiful, perfect moments. Cherish the seconds you have. It means something. I know it meant something to me as a 5-yr-old kid sitting in that California classroom. It means something to me now. For McAuliffe and the other astronauts, those 72 seconds were amazing and chilling and wondrous. But I wish I could erase that 73rd and bring them all back to be with us here on earth. I'm sorry I can't.

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