Thursday, January 28, 2016

30th Anniversary of Challenger Tragedy

It was 30 years ago this morning that the Challenger space shuttle exploded about a minute after take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida taking the lives of the 7 astronauts aboard, including Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher. The Dec./Jan. AARP Magazine has an excellent article written by Peggy Noonan who as a speech writer for President Reagan, tells of the preparation of his famous 5 minute message following the tragedy. While his comments were of consolation to the families of those lost, and an assurance to the Nation that we would continue in our quest of outer space, it was the conclusion that many of us have remembered. Peggy Noonan had remembered the sonnet, "High Flight", written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. which she studied in 7th grade. She wanted to include parts of it but knew the President wouldn't use it unless he was familiar with the poem. Magee was a young American who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1939, trained in England, flew in a Spitfire Squadron and was killed on a training mission in December of '41 at the age of 19. He had written the poem a few months earlier and sent it home to his parents.  It so happened that President Reagan had read the poem off of a plaque it was written on, when he dropped his daughter off at school. He ended his speech with, " 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".

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