Columbia explosion. I’m having a hard time saying or writing those words, because my fingers, my mouth, my brain, all know the words. “Challenger explosion”, and having to put a new word, a new shuttle, into that space makes me stutter and break.
Several years ago, my dad asked me if there was anything in my generation, a defining moment that we all remembered, like his generation remembered the Kennedy assassination. It took no thought at all to answer, “The Challenger.” My friends, the people I know, the people I’ve spoken with, all have a place of shock and pain inside them that looks like a brilliant white plume with trails coming off it, against a vivid blue sky.
For today’s children, I think the defining moment, the thing they will never be able to forget, will be 9/11, not the Columbia explosion this morning. I can hardly hold that against them, but as shocked as I was when the WTC came down, it didn’t hurt me the way this does. I love the shuttles. I love the space program. I’d been to the WTC, but NY isn’t a place in my heart. The shuttles are.
Rick Husband. Willie McCool. Dave Brown. Laurel Clark. Kalpana Chawla. Mike Anderson. Ilan Ramon. Dick Scobee. Michael Smith. Judith Resnik. Ellison Onizuka. Ronald McNair. Gregory Jarvis. Christa McAuliffe. Gus Grissom. Edward White. Roger Chaffee.
Our alleged leader says:
The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on. (thanks to Bryant for the quote.)
I hope he means it. *God*, I hope he means it. The space program was strangled nearly to death with the Challenger explosion; I desperately do not want the Columbia–I still can’t type that; my fingers spell out ‘Cha–‘ before I can fix it–to be the end of it.
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never Lark, or even Eagle flew –
And while with silent lifting mind, I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
– John Gillespie Magee, Jr, 1922-1944
(Thank you, bigsimon, for the idea for the above.)