Never Forget


I wrote this six years ago, but thought I would share it here today:

I always feel a twinge of guilt on January 28.

I remember where I was when I heard. I wasn’t born when Kennedy was assasinated, but like most of my generation, I remember where I was when I heard that the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded.

I was in the boys’ locker room for the gym at Huntsville Middle School. I was in P.E. when it happened, so I didn’t watch it. It was not until later in the day that I would first see those indelible images, and thankfully knew what to expect by the time I finally saw them. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to watch that as it happened.

I was in the boys’ locker room for the gym at Huntsville Middle School. We were getting ready, as the news began to spread. The boy that told me had not actually seen it, he had heard from someone else. Who in turn had no doubt heard from someone else. But the person who told me had no emperical knowledge, just the word of mouth he had heard.

I don’t feel the twinge of guilt because I initially scoffed at him. I feel the twinge of guilt because I think I actually did reassure him.

That he was wrong. That he had heard wrong, or the person who had told him was wrong.
Because it could not happen. It simply couldn’t.

The Space Shuttle … the Space Shuttle, among the greatest of man’s creations … does not just blow up.

It doesn’t.

I mean, for heaven’s sake, it’s the Space Shuttle.

It couldn’t happen.

But it did.

I feel a twinge of guilt every January 28 at the thought that that student, whoever he was, had to find out twice that day that Challenger had exploded.

So that’s my story. That’s where I was; that’s how I heard. Where were you?

5 Responses

  1. I was sitting in Ms. Coker’s kindergarten class at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Jackson, MS. Our class and the neighboring Ms. White’s had banded together to watch the launch on television.

    I can’t remember my reaction, or really the reaction of anyone. I do remember the image. I know that I remember the image from then, and not from more recent viewings, because my memory is from the back of the class, looking over the heads of my classmates and seeing the footage on the small television screen sitting on the bookcase full of building blocks and toys. (My wife, I’m sure, wonders how I can remember such detail here, but not of our own trips and events. [-:)

    I know that I will never forget the images of the shuttle, and I hope I never forget the rest of my memory, of the setting and the room.

  2. I was in 2nd grade, and I was at home sick for some reason (not sure if I was faking or not). As a result, I was given the privilege of being laid up in my parents’ bed — they had a TV in their bedroom — and I watched it from there.
    I remember being horrified, though I was too young to really understand what was going on….

  3. I was in the first grade. I remember watching it on our only TV, which had been moved into the dining room because they were putting new carpet in the living room. I do not know if I was home from school that day and was watching it live or if I was just seeing replays on the news. But can totally picture exactly the way the dining room looked that day and where the TV, where I was sitting, etc.

  4. I was at the grocery store with my Mom. I remember seeing the images on the TV hanging from the ceiling and all of the people suddenly getting very tense. I didn’t understand the impact of the event but I knew it was major because people were crying and everything got very quiet. I remember my Mom stopping in the middle of the isle to pray for the families of all the astronauts. It was very sobering when she finally explained what happened so I could understand it.

  5. […] it reminded me of the post and discussion on here a while back about how people heard about Challenger. (Answer — for people my age, generally watching it live on […]

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