I was in my junior year of high school at Harding High in St Paul, MN. I happened to be in the midst of another exam in my American History class when Mr. Keenan, the purveyor of our school announcements, came on the loud speaker with a very succinct message:
“The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take-off this morning.”
That particular message resonated with the majority of students and teachers due to the fact there was a teacher on board the Challenger. Sharon “Christa” McAuliffe was an American teacher from New Hampshire who was selected from among more than 11,000 applicants to be the first teacher in space. Because of the extra notoriety surrounding this mission, students all over the world were viewing the launch on TV in anticipation of receiving a science lesson from outer space. Instead, those same young people had to endure the pictures of such a tragic event.
Then President Ronald Reagan, who postponed his State of the Union address that evening, summed up the tragedy in his usual graceful manner:
"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.'"Twenty years later we offer many continued prayers on the behalf of the families of crew members McAuliffe, Francis “Dick” Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair and Gregory Jarvis.
We truly will never forget.