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28 January 2011 @ 12:41 pm
The Far Call: In Memorium—Challenger, 25 years later  
I remember where I was when I heard, of course. I was sweeping the mess deck on the USCGC Rush. I was only a few short weeks out of Boot Camp at that point.

Several people have quoted President Reagan's speech of that tragic day, when he spoke of how Challenger's crew had ... slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.. Reagan, in turn, was alluding to the first and last lines of a pre-space flight poem written by a World War II aviator:

High Flight
John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew—
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

I feel: sadreverent
velvetpage on January 28th, 2011 10:07 pm (UTC)
It was to happen early in the day, so my dad let me stay home and be late to school to see it on TV. I was living in Peterborough at the time.

I've always loved that poem.
silussa on January 28th, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC)
I was working 2nd shift at an Amoco on beachside/A1A. We had a beautiful view of the launch after the first 20 seconds or so.

Oddly, we had an evening paper at the time, and the delivery guy had arrived just in time to watch the launch with me. We were...confused for a minute, trying to figure out what had happened (no radio or tv).

Then he said, with one of the most classic understatements of the time, "I had better head back. I think they're going to be redoing page 1."

Samuel Conwayunclekage on January 29th, 2011 03:18 am (UTC)
I was getting lunch at the Student Union. My chemistry professor trotted in and said, "Hey...the shuttle just blew up!" I ran in to the next room where a TV was always on, and the newscasters were still staring at each other in confusion, not knowing what to say. I do think I cried that day.

Has it really been 25 years? It feels like just a little while ago. I still can't stand to hear them say: "Challenger, go with throttle-up..."
jthinktoomuch: best wings yetjthinktoomuch on February 3rd, 2011 02:31 am (UTC)