January 29, 2016

"...to touch the face of God."

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger explosion.  Concord High School social studies teacher Christa McAuliffe was of course on board the shuttle and died along with the six other crew members.  I was in 4th grade when this happened and vividly remember our principal coming over the intercom to tell us what happened and then leading us in a prayer.  That evening, President Reagan addressed the nation and part of that speech was our morning prayer yesterday:

We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and, perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.

There's a coincidence today. On this day three hundred and ninety years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, "He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it." Well, today, we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. 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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