Today marks the 25th anniversary of the day that the Space Shuttle Challenger came apart on it’s flight into space. I remember where I was that morning, as I’m sure you do as well. There are few events on a national level or global level that have the impact on us as this did. We were riveted to this particular mission because of the fact that Christa McAuliffe was aboard the shuttle marking the first time an everyday person was going to head into space. She was a teacher… somebody we could all relate to. When the footage of the shuttle came apart as they were given the go ahead for “Throttle up” it felt like all of us came apart. The pleading for it all to be some sort of weird dream at first. Then we were left hoping that somehow the cabin managed to stay intact as it fell to earth in pieces. When the reality finally hit, the heartbreak was just too much to take in all at once. Americans, young and old, looked for answers… we looked for some explanation that would help it make sense to us all. We didn’t know what to make of this tragedy, we didn’t know where to turn to. Then, in true healing leadership, President Reagan delivered the most powerful speech that he could have. We were all feeling such loss but when we heard him say, “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.” we knew the answer rested with our belief in God. We knew that they were safe now, they were in a better place… they were with God. And in his brief but powerful finish to that speech, we were reminded of the power of faith. Knowing that they were touching the face of God made it all seem ok again. Sure, we mourned their loss, but in some small way we may have envied them for the fact that they were finally sitting with God and we know that we must complete our time here on earth before we have that wonderful meeting for ourselves. No one wishes to trade places with them but we all envy the great experience that they had when it all seemed to go wrong for them. From bad can come good. We learned that message that day… they may have left us all behind, their families will never sit with them here on earth again but we know that they will be eagerly awaiting our arrival so that they can show us all there is to know in God’s kingdom. They will be there to greet us as we finally “touch the face of God”.
The crew of STS-51-L Space Shuttle Challenger:
Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.