Where were you 25 years ago today? The day that the Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off into that clear blue Florida sky only to burst into a ball of smoke and flames 78 seconds later.
I remember that so clearly. It still sends chills down my spine. I think about it every once in a while but sure didn't realize it had been 25 years until I was greeted with a replay of that tragedy first thing when I turned on the news this morning. Gloria looked at it and said "Whoa! What happened?" She didn't realize that it wasn't happening right then or even yesterday.
I remember being at school. I was a sophomore in high school. It was lunch time, almost time for fifth period to begin. Some of us had gone outside to wait for the bell. A few of us were watching the sky, knowing that the shuttle was about to take off. You could see it, once it got up into the air, from where we were in Central Florida. We saw it and then we saw the cloud of smoke. Someone joked that maybe the shuttle had just blown up. But it was a joke, right? That couldn't really happen. Just a joke. A horrible, tasteless one, in hindsight... We went to fifth period (for me it was Mrs. Ostman's English class) and a few minutes later there was an announcement made about what had just occurred (and some of us had witnessed) and a moment of silence. For the rest of fifth, sixth, and seventh periods we sat watching the television broadcast. I'm not sure a high school has ever been so silent.
I do think about it every once in a while. There was a teacher on board Challenger. Flying into space so that she could share that experience and passion with her students back home. Leaving her family behind for this mission. Sure she would return. After all, all the other shuttle missions had been successful. Who ever even thought this could happen??? And then I ask myself if I have that same kind of passion, as well as courage, when it comes to my class, my students, my vocation. Some days, the answer might be yes, but other days I certainly choose to play it safe.
Those images of 25 years ago are seared in my memory. Seeing them again this morning on the television brought it all back to the forefront of my mind.
Where were you 25 years ago today? What were you doing when you heard about or saw Challenger enter into history and our collective memories?