I don't watch space shuttle launches. I just can't stand it. I was sitting with my classmatees in Aiken Day School on January 28, 1986 watching the launch of the Challenger, when the unimaginable happened. I remember trying to understand where the people on it went. I just couldn't get it. The teachers were running all over the place trying to decide what to do - turn off the TV and try to explain, let us watch, call our parents in case we were traumatized - it was as if it went down right there on the playground, and no one knew what to do. The teachers left the room, and we watched it replay over and over again.
Over the next few years, I didn't think about it a whole lot, but it just sat in the back of my mind like a little lump of sadness - probably because I was so young when I watched it.
I was accepted to North Carolina A&T State University, and on the tour - there it was - huge, imposing, the most modern building on campus at the time - the Ronald McNair building. Ronald McNair had graduated with honors from the Engineering program at A&T. For some it was a daily reminder of the accomplishments of a talented African American graduate of the school. For me, each time I was hearing the building name, or seeing it, was like having the tape of the incident played on fast forward again.
When I heard the shuttle program was over, I felt relief - I'll admit it. When I realized that it is just over in its previous form - I was sad again.
Although the accomplishment of space flight is amazing, and the photos and information that they bring back is valuable, it isn't priceless. The people who go on the missions - they are the ones who are priceless...
In a tribute to the end of the program, a jumbo jet carried a space shuttle past the monument in DC. These amazing photos were taken by Andreas Kraemer at www.DCInsiderGuide.com. He's my hubby's co-worker, and apparently pretty handy with his camera!
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