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30 years ago today

I was in fifth grade. It was the end of the school day, and the principal made the announcement over the intercom while I was sitting in Miss Beezley's classroom. The Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded, and all of the astronauts were lost.

I remember riding the bus home thinking it had to be a mistake, or an awful joke of some kind. Things like that didn't happen. There was a teacher on board, for goodness' sake, not just astronauts. Why would the principal say something like that when it couldn't possibly be true?

I got home to find my mom watching the news and crying. She watched every Shuttle launch live--it was an era of enthusiasm about space and NASA and the US--and I would have too if it hadn't been during the school day. Later, I realized how many kids had seen it live because they watched it in the classroom. That would have been so much worse (and can you imagine the poor teachers having to deal with their own grief and shock plus that of their students?). But just then, I was too busy trying to wrap my eleven-year-old brain around how something so awful had happened.

I do know that this image will never leave my mind, and the loss of innocence it represents is something that I'm sure much of my generation shares.

RIP, Challenger crew.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 28th, 2016 02:18 pm (UTC)
It was devastating. I had just arrived in Hong Kong after 6 months teaching English in mainland China... It was on the front page of the newspaper left outside our hotel room. I wept and wept... a space junkie from birth.
Jan. 28th, 2016 02:49 pm (UTC)
I was a senior in high school and a bunch of my classmates were watching. I don't remember who told me but I remember who I was talking to when I made it through the shock to the sobbing. What tipped me over the edge was the thought of the teacher's students who probably watched it live. Details are hazy now but my physics teacher had a radio in the classroom and we listened to something where mission control was trying to figure out what happened. I don't know if it was news broadcasting the feed or what but it was a lot of silences and crackling static where there should have been voices from the shuttle. I still cry about it. I can't believe it's been 30 years.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )