|Still my favourite photo of the crew. Source: NASA.gov.|
I didn't know that as a 7-year-old on that January day. In the weeks and months that followed I mourned the lost astronauts with a grief that I couldn't share and wouldn't talk about (haha, not a lot has changed for me there--even my sister has to read my blog to find out what I'm thinking). Eventually, I named a couple of cats after Judith Resnik & Christa McAuliffe. Those cats both lived happy lives, eventually dying from natural causes, although they never went to space. Not quite as monumental as having a high school named after you, I suppose, but they were very cute cats.
Incidentally, it's so painfully obvious who remembers Challenger and who doesn't when it comes up in a classroom. There's a visible flinch from those who remember it. As one of them, I'm amazed every time at our collective reaction. So many national tragedies have come and gone since then, and yet even the word produces a physical reaction. I imagine that's a reflection of how unprepared we were, in 1986, for something to go horribly wrong. And maybe it's the fact that so many things have gone wrong since that makes us react. Maybe it's the knowledge that we haven't learned so much, after all.