Anyone know what happened on this date more than 20 years ago? It’s one of those life-stopping events that can make you instantly recall where you were when you heard the news. Some of you are too young to remember it, but for those who aren’t, you’ll never forget it.
I’ll post the answer later.
You are exactly right (well, Daniel’s extraneous information wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, although it is pretty interesting.) From today’s Writer’s Almanac:
It was on this day in 1986 that the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after takeoff, killing all seven astronauts aboard. That evening, President Ronald Reagan eulogized the lost astronauts in one of the finest addresses of his presidency. He said, “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped ‘the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.'”
I was in elementary school, fifth grade I think. They set up a television in the hallway so we could watch what was happening. We kept the front page of the newspaper with the famous photo around for a long time. My parents might even still have it somewhere.
On the night of the disaster,
President Ronald Reagan had been scheduled to give his annual State of the Union Address. He initially announced that the address would go on as scheduled, but under mounting pressure he postponed the State of the Union Address for a week and gave a national address on the Challenger disaster from the Oval Office of the White House. It was written by Peggy Noonan, and finished with a quote (above) from the poem “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr..
Here’s that address by President Reagan. It’s about four minutes long and worth watching. The man knew how to lead a nation:
Some of the astronauts’ remains are buried here, in Arlington National Cemetary. It’s a moving thing to see in person:
By the way, a teacher finally made it to space last year: Barbara Morgan, the original backup to Christa McAuliffe, flew on the space shuttle Endeavor 22 years after the Teacher in Space progam began.