Remembering Challenger

Published on January 28 2006 - Remembering Challenger - Jan 28, 2006
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) -- Twenty years ago, space shuttle Challenger blew apart in jets of fire and plumes of smoke, a terrifying sight witnessed by the families of the seven astronauts and by those who came to watch the historic launch of the first teacher in space.
Do you remember where you were that day? If I'm not mistaken, it was a Saturday-- maybe a Sunday. It WAS a day off from work, though; and a very sunny and cold morning. I had the curtains open in the living room so that the room was brightly sunny, and had parked myself in the rocking chair with my 3 month old daughter, just snuggling with her and flipping through the three (!!) channels on TV. (This was the days before cable and 24-hour news. All we had up here was, ABC, NBC, CBS, and Public TV if the antenna was pointed just so). All three stations suddenly went to coverage in florida, although none of them had carried the liftoff live. Shuttle liftoffs were "commonplace" by that time, and not worth interrupting soap operas and game shows for. They interrupted them that morning. I spent the rest of that day with my daughter in that rocking chair, watching in horror and sadness the replays of the flight, over and over and over. Looking back, it was one of two days I did something like that--the other being 9/11 of course. I don't think I moved from that chair until after the President postponed the State of the Union speech to say this:
The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."
Twenty years ago. Sure doesn't seem that long.

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