Every generation is marked by an event that leaves an indelible impression. For my parents, I am quite sure that was the assassination of JFK. When I was young, I can recall them saying "I remember where I was when . . ." For me, there are a few events that I can recall so vividly, that I find myself saying the very same thing. One of those is the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion. Today marks the 25th anniversary of that tragedy. I was in the fifth grade when it happened. I remember what a big deal it was that a teacher was going up in space for the first time ever. All of us had been gathered together to watch it live on TV. Excitement quickly turned to horror as the vessel burst into smoke and flames. At the time, my 10 year old mind couldn't comprehend what was happening, but once I saw the look of sheer panic on the teachers' faces, I knew the outcome would not be good. In fact, I can vividly recall one female teacher, whose face became white as a ghost. She looked at the other teachers as if to say "What should we do?", and it seemed like she wanted to burst into tears. At that point, we were ushered back into our classrooms, and the school day went on as usual.
I took the above photo on our trip to Washington DC in 2009. This is the memorial to the Challenger that stands at Arlington Cemetery. I remember feeling such sadness on that day 25 years ago, and those feelings came back to me today as the footage was being shown on TV. Undoubtedly, this is one of those unforgettable events of a lifetime. We should never forget these seven astronauts for the sacrifice they made on that fateful day.