What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

11 February 2016

Challenger: Thirty Years

The anniversary of Challenger has come and gone, and I couldn't bring myself to comment on the actual anniversary, but I do have Thoughts. (By some miracle, these are different thoughts than the ones I had on the 25th anniversary.)

Still my favourite photo of the crew. Source: NASA.gov.
As I made my way through higher education, and especially in a technical communication program, Challenger came up over and over again. Y'all, it would have been so easy to not lose those astronauts. So easy. There were memos, there were warnings, there were impassioned pleas around NASA in the weeks leading up to the launch. And they went unheeded. Among the many tragedies of that day stands this one: People in the place to make decisions took their eyes off the ball for a few seconds too long. And this is the price that was paid.

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.


Sharlan Proper said...

I hadn't thought about the collective shudder. So observant, and so true.

Anonymous said...

Amazing what a difference a year makes. You're only a year older and you have much more intense and detailed memories of challenger. I have one vivid memory of that day. All of the kids gathered in the school cafeteria watching the launch, the explosion - which I didn't understand, and then the teachers' reaction. That about all I remember. But I completely relate with your description of the collective shudder.

At work we deal with a lot of kids (and sometimes adults) with trauma in their past. Sometimes they have no clear recollection of the trauma - no vivid memories - but they are affected by that trauma none the less. There is trauma stored in our bodies that may or may not be consciously remembered. This trauma, if not addressed, can cause many unexplained negative reactions including reactions to triggers associated with the trauma. Makes me think of your "collective shudder."

The is a book called "the Body Keeps Score" that has been on my shelf waiting to be read. It comes highly recommended by people whose opinions matter to me. Unfortunately I have a long list of highly recommended books to read and haven't yet gotten around to reading this one.