Florida has been hit by unusually cold weather lately, it is true.  But many here who complain were not around in mid-1980's, which produced the bitter cold winters which, along with developers greedy for new land, destroyed the Central Florida citrus industry.

That was not all that icy weather and poor human judgement destroyed in those years.

Twenty-five years ago today, we were eager to share with visiting friends one of the blessings of living here:  the view, from our front yard, of a space shuttle launch.

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Discovery, March 8, 2001

Due to the cold morning temperatures, however, when Challenger lifted off we elected to keep our small children (and ourselves) indoors, for the view was nearly as good from our large front window.  But this time, the sight was different.  We took no pictures, but thanks to YouTube you can share the experience, albeit from a different angle,

Did I say you could share the experience?  You can see it, but you can't share it.  That those who weren't here could not understand was made obvious in the ensuing days as jokes and unfeeling comments came forth from other parts of the country.  The loss of Challenger and her crew left a mark on Central Floridians similar to that left on the rest of the country twenty years earlier by the assassination of President Kennedy, and twenty years later by the destruction of the Twin Towers.

We still remember.

In his response to the disaster, President Ronald Reagan quoted from this poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.  It, too, has stayed with me these 25 years.

High Flight

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 even 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.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, January 28, 2011 at 7:07 am | Edit
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Updated to include a link to the embedded video for those whose feedreaders don't catch it. I keep forgetting, until I see it—or rather don't see it—in Google Reader.



Posted by SursumCorda on Friday, January 28, 2011 at 9:42 am

I recognize that poem from Grandpa's funeral. Thanks for the reminder!



Posted by Stephan on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 9:40 am

That event is indelibly pressed into my mind and heart. I was unprepared for the emotions I felt when I saw video footage of the explosion for the first time when an engineering classmate at CMU did a project on the Challenger.



Posted by joyful on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Though, in correction to your post, I was in school, not at home, when I was out watching it. But Janet would have been home. I was in first grade.



Posted by joyful on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Sorry—by "our kids" I meant Janet and Katie. You know, your "other sister." :)



Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Though we were too young to understand what was going on. I think Katie said she remembered, but I saw so many launches I'm not sure I was any more interested in this one and then maybe the adults protected me from too much information. In any case, I don't remember it. :(



Posted by IrishOboe on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 9:34 am

Thanks for the reminder. This is the first video I've seen of that day, since that day--brings back the sadness. I remember conferring with Linda to figure out how to explain the events to Katie & Janet (both nearly 4). They knew we were postponing our Disney World trip that day, but not why we were glued to the TV and window. When Heather came home she provided the words--"It exploded, like when you pop a balloon."



Posted by Leanne on Wednesday, February 09, 2011 at 10:20 am

I do remember that day. Unlike Janet, it was the only space shuttle launch I'd seen. At the time I don't think I really understood what it meant, though I'm sure Heather's explanation fit my 4-year-old brain as well as any could. I remember strange details, like the cushion I sat on to watch out the window, and the toys I wanted to play with when whatever we were watching was over. Although I couldn't quite understand why, I could tell the grown-ups were upset.



Posted by Katie on Wednesday, February 09, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Hi, Katie and Leanne! Thanks so much for adding to the conversation.



Posted by SursumCorda on Wednesday, February 09, 2011 at 3:40 pm
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