Where were you when the Challenger exploded?
Today is the anniversary of the Challenger disaster. It happened while I was at school, and I didn't hear about it until I arrived in science class. My teacher had the radio on, and we listened to the news that day. Nobody had anything to say.
Wow. It's been 27 years. I was studying in Galway, Ireland and another American housemate received a phone call about the disaster. I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating lunch with some of my housemates and a great sadness fell over the room.
My kids were tiny and I was busy doing housework. My husband called from work to tell me and I turned on the TV. What a tragedy!
I was in middle school, but my class didn't watch the launch live. Shuttle launches were so routine by then that we didn't watch them live unless y we had science class at the time of the launch. So I was pretty clueless about it for most of the day.
The first I heard about the 51-L disaster was from one of my classmates on line in the cafeteria. He said, "Hey, what was the last thing that went through Christa McAuliffe's mind?"
L- don't know, what?" I asked, not sure where this was going.
Lher leg," he said, and laughed uproariously.
"What are you talking about?" I asked, still a little confused.
Then one of the teachers pulled me aside and told me what had happened.
I was pretty traumatized for the rest od the day.
Like you, I was at school, and heard about it there. That was one of the biggest and saddest national events I recall from my childhood.
Unusually, I was in a high school class taking a test instead of sneaking off to watch the launch on TV. I was very plugged in to the shuttle program, the way other kids might follow a sports team.
I first found out when my friends rushed into the dining hall at lunch laughing. "The space shuttle exploded!" and "Your father is a murderer!" I thought it was a cruel joke. I didn't believe them. I took my lunch down to the science building and entered the office between the classrooms where there was a TV set up, where I'd been allowed to watch previous launches. It was on, and tuned to the news, which was rehashing the launch and showing footage of the explosion over and over. Several teachers were there gathered around watching. I watched with them.
I'm tearing up remembering.
There were several years of nightmare about it. I took my peers' teasing to heart. Somehow, I felt a sort of guilt by contagion (Dad never worked on the boosters directly, just the kick motors that popped them off when they were used up, but still, it was a booster that failed, made by the company that he worked for).
The only time I ever saw a shuttle launch in person, it was Challenger. it's a strange irony that the shuttle I've seen the most -- the one that's come here, and I've already seen it four times -- is Endeavour, built to replace Challenger.
I was in my mother's womb! I would be born about 41/2 months later!
I was in preschool and completely unaware of what had happened
I was at the market and everyone was talking about what happened.....it was horribly sad.
I was in graphics class my senior year in high school. The teacher brought in a TV and we actually saw it happen live. Awful. We were all just shocked. No one spoke for what seemed like a half hour.
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