|Source. I had intended to find one of the nice posed mission|
pics for this post, but when I ran across this one I liked it
too much to pass up. This is right before the famous shot of
them walking out to the shuttle, all smiles and waves.
My father's second-grade tragedy was Kennedy. Mine was Challenger. We didn't watch the launch that day (for which I thank God & my primary-school principal at least once a year), and so it was that our music class was interrupted with our principal making the announcement that the shuttle had exploded and the seven astronauts had been killed. I don't remember what happened after that, whether we continued with the lesson or not. I do remember that our music teacher kept her composure, and I'm still impressed by that; classroom of kids or not, had I been an adult, and especially an educator, I probably would have sat down and cried right away-- that was pretty much my reaction to Columbia.
A few days later my cousin told me one of the many jokes going around at the time, which I unwisely repeated to my mother. She was horrified that I would say such a thing, of course, and once I understood why she was upset I was horrified, too. Twenty-five years later, I know that humour is a coping device for some (including myself, I guess), and these days I would be both less horrified and less inclined to repeat it.
Speaking of humour, I'll go ahead and make my obligatory snark: It's completely obscene that I can remember anything from 25 years ago. Geez, I feel old. Especially now that I'm back at uni, and I see the occasional casual reference to Challenger in my textbooks-- I look around at my classmates and know that it doesn't make their stomachs lurch or bring tears to their eyes. Their generation has had its own tragedies, of course, but if a conversation ensues I feel very alone in my emotions. Sometimes I'll catch the instructor's eye when this happens, just to have someone to connect to.
All this to say, I have not forgotten. I will never forget. I will probably stay away from the news analysts today, just because I don't want to watch the video-- searching for images for this post was bad enough. The picture of a y-shaped cloud is seared into my memory forever and does not need refreshing. And even worse are the articles detailing every minute of the tragedy, and all the ways that seven lives could have been saved if NASA had used a bit of foresight. It sends me into depths of sadness every time-- not only for the astronauts and their families, but also for the NASA employees who had to have blamed themselves for sending their friends up unprepared. Twenty-five years is a long time to cope with those emotions.
Where were you, 25 years ago today? (Or if you're younger than me, I guess you can talk about whatever you want.)