There are watershed events in everyone’s lives. The morning we lost the Challenger will always be one of mine.
I was a sophomore in university. I’d deliberately planned on skipping my classes so I could watch the launch. There had always been something magical and majestic about the power of the launch.
Then seconds into the launch, the indelible tragedy struck. A collective national gasp as we watched the unthinkable happen on live, unfiltered television. A simple thing like a failed o-ring, causing a catastrophic failure. Tearing the shuttle to pieces.
The horror of the families of the shuttle’s crew caught forever on film as they realized what had happened.
The greater emotional impact when the nation realized that the crew had been alive when the crew pod hit the ocean. Surviving the initial explosion.
Collectively, the nation mourned.
Astronauts are a unique bunch. They train for every scenario, including death. They know that things can go terribly wrong. Did they try absolutely everything they could to survive? I’m thinking they did.
As I remember the crew of the Challenger, I remember them for their zest for life. Their courage to explore and take risks. Did they want to leave their loved ones this way, absolutely not.
I honor the crew of the Challenger for the example, they continue to represent, of having lived life to the fullest.