Twenty Five Years Ago today, the Challenger spacecraft as it was rising into the air blew up. I remember watching it on TV in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic Building in Rancho Mirage, California where I was working at the time.
The whole staff was gathered around the TV and when it happened there was a silence and then a collective gasp. None of us could believe what we saw. We all looked at each other and said it didn’t just happen did it? The space program had the Apollo disaster, but nothing like this.
We all were speechless and then the TV announcer came on and confirmed it had indeed blown-up. The whole day was cloaked in gloom, not wanting to believe that these wonderful people were gone. These heroes, schoolteachers, scientists, astronauts had all lost their lives in an instant, in front of a nation on television.
My daughter was 11 months old just about to turn one. I remember when I picked her up that afternoon. Holding her tight and kissing her as if I hadn’t seen her for days. The reminder of how brief life is and how quick it can be taken away was present on my mind.
To many of us who saw the explosion, we all know where we were and what we were doing that moment and who we were with. Just as I wrote a few weeks ago about the Oklahoma City bombing. Tragedy never leaves your memory, it stays with you and is there all the time.
This was the death of many of our space heroes, and the set-back of the space program. However it did make the program safer. Our nation made it through a national tragedy and came back stronger because we all came together to make the space program better.
- Reagan’s memorable speech on Challenger disaster (sfgate.com)