Sunday, January 29, 2006
Reach for the Stars
As a child, I wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. I read everything I could on space exporation, I had my own telescope, and used it so often. At Christmas, I would always get at least one book on astronomy. My room was decked out in models of Apollo spacecraft and one of each space shuttle.
On January 28, 1986, I was a student at Goddard Junior High in Midland, TX. I would spend my lunch hour in the library, like many other nerds. I walked into the library and the librarian, Mrs. Whitlaw, sat me down and told me the space shuttle had exploded during launch. The rest of the school day was a blur as I wanted to race home, which I did. I recorded and watched the news coverage over and over. This was my Kennedy Assasination. I was too upset to cry.
I had always enjoyed school, and even knew a teacher who had applied to the Teacher in Space program.
In my first real act of writing, I composed a poem for each of the astronauts. They were published in my hometown paper. In hindsight, they were atrocious, but what do you expect from an 8th grader?
As time went by, and I realized how much math I would have to take to even think about becoming an astronaut, I quietly gave up the quest. Instead, I began to look at my aunt Kathy, who was a teacher, for inspiration. Even though I got sidetracked, I have always felt a special affinity for teachers, and try to work with them whenever I can.
Every year, I would remember the Challenger Tragedy a little less, as life just kept on going. Yesterday, however, was the 20th anniversary of the launch and destruction of the shuttle, and you cannot turn on a tv without hearing something about it. As I write this, CNN is tunning a special on the life of Christa Mcauliffe.
All of the emotions of that 8th grader have come flooding back, and the sadness is palpable. I mourn for the loss of the astonauts, and feel for the families they have left behind.