Friday, January 28, 2011


Twenty-five years ago today; Challenger.

I can still remember the utter dismay with which I watched that event on television. We watched shuttle launches in those days, and were excited by them. I remember having the same sense of horror and loss that I had the day Jack Kennedy was lost to us.

That was a day, also, that Tom Brokaw forever endeared himself to me. The network had been showing a clip of the parents of Christa McAuliffe, at the launch site, as they watched the disaster and after Brokaw introduced the clip at one point it failed to come up. He said something about having trouble with the clip and added, “That’s a good one to lose, in my opinion.” The clip was never aired again.

I remember the absolute fury that I felt when it was revealed that Challenger’s loss had been due to the arrogance and complacency of the agency itself, an agency that had once been the pride and shining star of the nation. The Kennedys, Martin Luther King and, later, the Towers were all the result of the hatred of mad men, but this we had done to ourselves.

We would do it again less than twenty years later, and in repeating ourselves allow that same arrogance and complacency to take the lives of the crew of Columbia.

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