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Reflecting Twenty Years Ago

I think we all have moments in life we will never forget. Time that is frozen. Time where you recall exactly what we were doing when something earth shattering interrupted that moment.

Twenty years ago I was debugging a COBOL module I was working on when my then future sister-in-law came into my office and told me she just heard the Challenger exploded on launch. My wife just told me she was in a Chemistry class. We did not have the Internet back then so I scrambled to find a radio station with the news. How could this happen? How could I miss this launch?

I am a space geek so I took the rest of the day off and went home and watched the extensive news coverage. It did not take me long to see what happened. I did not know it was an o-ring failure, but it was clear to me the solid rocket booster failed and ignited the fuel stored in the external tank.

I will never forget the sacrifice of Challenger’s STS-51L crew: commander Francis ““Dick”” Scobee, pilot Michael Smith, mission specialists Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, payload specialist Gregory Jarvis, and teacher/civilian Christa McAuliffe.

It is hard to believe it is really twenty years ago. So much has happened since the disaster, but it is literally a half a lifetime ago for me so I guess I should not be surprised. Reflecting on this event each year is a gentle reminder how short life is, and why it is so important to live each day doing something to better ourselves and helping others do the same.

2 Responses to “Reflecting Twenty Years Ago”

  1. January 31st, 2006 at 09:18 | #1

    Wow, I remember this day too. I was in one of the best English classes I have ever taken. There was a TV on in the room which was odd in the first place. Our teacher (a great grad student) was late. She walked in had not even began speaking when it happened. We started each class by writing in our journals. She promptly packed her briefcase up, asked us to finish our journal entries, turned the TV off and left the room saying that she could not teach on a day like this.

    Gosh, it sure does seem like yesterday doesn’t it?

  2. January 31st, 2006 at 16:55 | #2

    My grandfather’s funeral was the day of the Challenger explosion. I had gone to Disney World with my family when I learned my grandfather had died. I left my husband and son in Orlando and flew to Washington for the funeral. My husband says they were on the skyride in the Magic Kindgom and saw a flash of light, but didn’t know until much later what it was.

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