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Challenger January 28, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in societal commentary.
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I heard about the Challenger explosion when my mom picked me up from school that day. She was very careful about how she told me, going through it slowly, making sure I was okay. She took a circuitous route through my home town, wanting to give us enough time to talk about it and for her to deal with a potentially very emotional reaction.

I was in sixth grade, and I wanted to be an astronaut. She was afraid I would be scared or upset and that such an event would be crushing for me. I remember feeling sad and disappointed. But it didn’t change my feelings about seeing space.

Obviously, I’m not an astronaut, and I doubt I’ll ever be one. In college, I was, however, a participant in the Ronald McNair Scholar’s program. For those who aren’t aware, it is a program to encourage first generation low-income and minority college students to get involved in research as preparation for grad school. The program was named for one of the seven astronauts who perished in the Challenger tragedy.

I have heard many stories over the years about McNair; every one of them is either humbling or inspiring. Many times, they’re both. Such is the case with the most recent story published in NPR to remember the 25th anniversary of the accident.

The world lost some very incredible people on that day, 25 years ago. We should feel sad and maybe disappointed, but we shouldn’t let go of our dreams…or theirs.

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