I'm not sure how many of you remember where you were 24 years ago today. On January 28, 1986 my classmates and I were sitting in Mrs. Ruiz's second grade class, very excited about a special and unique opportunity. We were going to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. I don't know if we were more excited about being able to watch TV during school or that we were going to witness a piece of history: the first teacher in space. I remember how excited we were about counting down to liftoff. We cheered as the space shuttle lifted off the launch pad. Little did we know that 73 seconds later we, along with the rest of America, would witness a tragedy that I can still vividly see in my mind even today (and because of this I'm not going to post a video. If you want to watch it, you can find it on YouTube).
Like a lot of people watching, we had no clue what had happened when the Challenger first exploded. I can remember after a minute or two, Mrs. Ruiz got a strange look on her face. I've wondered if it was at that moment she realized what had actually happened. She finally turned off the television and it wasn't until later that day that someone came in to talk to us about it. They explained that something bad had happened that morning to the space shuttle. I remember someone in my class asking if the astronauts were dead, and they said yes.
Over the next few months, the evening news replayed the explosion over and over, and over. We kept seeing the reactions of the crowd, of the families, and of Christa McAuliffe's students in New Hampshire. I remember at one point my dad started turning the TV off during the news because it was too upsetting to watch. Up until September 11, 2001, I think it was the most horrific thing ever witnessed on live television. Also, up until 9/11, the Challenger Explosion was the "where were you" moment of my generation's lifetime.
January 28th might not be the familiar date that September 11th will always be, but still, I wanted to pay tribute to the seven astronauts who died living out their dream:
Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnik.
It seems that most pictures of the Challenger's crew are copywrited, so I don't want to post them on my page without permission. You can Google them if you want. So, instead, I will post a picture of Mrs. Ruiz second grade class, way back from 1986.