All of my life, I heard people talk about days that will forever be burned into their memory. Days where everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing. Well, 22 years ago today, I experienced the first of those days for myself.
22 years ago today, the space shuttle Challenger was lost.
I remember that I was very angry that day because there had been talk that they were going to let us watch the launch and I wanted to see it. I was very into space stuff at that time. However, school officials decided it would be too difficult to arrange it so that everyone could watch, so no one got to.
I was sitting in Art Class, I was in fifth grade then, when a lunch monitor came in and began talking very seriously to our teacher. After the monitor left, the teacher called our attention and it was obvious that it wasn’t good. Strangely, I can’t remember her exact words though. I can remember she was wearing a slut red sweater, but I can’t remember exactly what she said. Everyone got the point though.
By lunch time, all of the tasteless jokes were already making the rounds. I was so angry. I guess it just wasn’t real to people since we hadn’t seen it. Or perhaps I was more sensitive to stuff than other 11 years olds, I don’t know. All I know is that I wanted to beat people’s asses when I heard the Need Another Seven Astronaught jokes.
I also remember that I couldn’t wait to see it. When the school bus finally dropped me off, I raced home to see it. My mom was visibly upset when I came in and she hugged me. Then I watched and watched and watched. I couldn’t seem to see it enough. I replayed it in my mind hundreds of time thereafter. It just never seemed to be real.
Years later, I have many such events, but Challenger still stays with me. Ironic, that 17 years later, I would look outside and see the streaks across the sky as Columbia broke up, scattering pieces all over my home state. In fact, the commander of Columbia was also from Amarillo. It was chilling to me, and brought back all of those Challenger memories again.
So today, January 28, 2008 will not be one of those days that live forever in anyone’s memory. However, as you go through today, take a moment to reflect back on those seven souls who took their last flight in front of an entire nation, January 28, 1986.