Thursday, January 28, 2016

30 Years since Challenger

I just wanted to take a moment to honor and remember the Challenger disaster that took place 30 years ago.  Each generation seems to have a defining disaster....for my parents' generation, it was the Kennedy assassination.  For was Challenger, and later....9/11.

I was in 6th grade.  As a special treat, the 6th graders were being allowed to watch the launch.  The first teacher to go into space was aboard, and everyone looked forward to watching her lessons from space in the coming days.  But my class had P.E. during that time...and my teacher decided that we would not watch the launch and we would go to P.E.  Our class was so disappointed.

We went to gym, came back, and continued our classwork.  A few minutes later, another one of the teachers came in and pulled our teacher aside.  She came back in, and told us that there had been an explosion with Challenger.  At that point, the media was still very careful about what they were reporting, so there was still talk and hope that the crew may have survived, and that maybe they would find them in the ocean.  Of course, as kids, we had alot of questions.  There weren't alot of answers.  And it opened up alot of emotion for us.  We didn't know the crew personally....but there had been so much hype over this mission, we all felt invested in it.

Just like 9/11...the news played footage of the explosion over and over.

My teacher's decision to have us not watch the launch saved us from the horror of viewing it live.  But in the days after the explosion, everyone talked about it over and over.  In 6th grade, you still have dreams of being an many kids said they didn't want to be an astronaut anymore.

A few years later, our family had moved to a new area, and a new elementary school was being built.  They took suggestions on what to name the school....Challenger Elementary was a common vote.  Ultimately they decided on another name, but I remember being at the meeting (my Dad was on the board of the PTA....for my brother's school....he couldn't be bothered with me) and parents yelling that this mission was all about education and that Challenger was the "only" fitting name.

So 30 years later, my thoughts are with the families of those who were lost.  I remember the day....alot of us do.


  1. I remember I was at work and we all just went home. It was such a national tragedy. Thanks for the reminder, we need to think of the families

  2. I was a month into my first job out of college working at an afternoon newspaper. The explosion happened on our deadline and we had the story on the streets in a matter of hours. The runner-up teacher lived in our town. I remember how conflicted she was - knowing it could have been her. The images of the families haunted me for months.

  3. I watched it. I was young and in school but we watched it. I remember being in school and seeing it and the teachers rushing to turn things off. I was young though so it was confusing more than anything.

  4. "I touch the teacher. I teach". RIP Christa McAuliffe. Oh, to teach just one more day.

    1. Oops, that could have an entirely different meaning. Of course it should be, I touch the future.

  5. I was in grade 6. That was such a sad day. I watched a special on it the other day on Nat Geo. I cried. So heartbreaking for the families and friends watching that day and the children who have lived 30 years without their parents.
    The thing that always stayed with me was Reagan's speech and the quote "they slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God". Still makes me sad.


  6. I was only 7 years old but remember the Challenger tragedy. Even in Ireland there was a big focus on it, given that a teacher was on board. Very very sad.