25 years ago – a 7 year old kid didn’t quite understand the true magnitude of what happened, but knew something was very wrong.
Tuesday, January 28th, 1986. Along with the rest of my 1st grade class and a number of other classes in my elementary school, I was in the school library. With the presence of Christa McAuliffe, the first member of the “Teachers In Space” project, watching this shuttle launch was supposed to be a pretty big deal.
We watched as the countdown commenced, reached zero, and Challenger lifted off just like it should. In what seemed like moments later (73 seconds, technically), a beautiful piece of technology suddenly became a flying cloud of smoke and debris. School staff hurried over to turn the tv off, and didn’t really know exactly how to explain what had just happened.
How DO you explain something like this to a bunch of kids?
President Ronald Regan’s address to the nation that day rang through millions of televisions. In the mind of a 7 year old, it was confusion and knowing that something went wrong, and that a teacher and her shuttlemates weren’t okay. At that time, I was too young to grasp what my parents felt when they heard the news of something like JFK’s assassination. Looking back on it now, I know exactly how they felt. I sit here now at the age of 32. 25 years later, we’ve had more than our share of moments that fall into that same category. Moments that you’ll always remember where you were when it happened.
Challenger was my first.