Saturday, January 29, 2011

Remembering the Challenger: 25 Years Later

Yesterday marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. For those who remember the day we were shocked by the disaster. Americans had erroneously believed that spaceflight had become almost routine. Challenger would remind us just how dangerous the business of space flight really was. It's surprising then, in retrospect, to realize that CNN still covered the launch live.

It's a national tragedy such as this that brings out the best and worst in a nation's leaders. President Ronald Reagan rose to the occasion. He was supposed to give the annual State of the Union address that evening. However, in light of the tragedy it seemed far more appropriate to pay tribute to the fallen seven astronauts.

It would be the first time America lost a crew in space. Unfortunately, it would not be the last. But they understood the risks they were taking and for that they are properly remembered as heroes.

President Reagan appropriately borrowed his closing line from the poem High Flight which is a mantra for pilots: "And slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God."

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