It was supposed to be a great moment in space flight history. The Challenger flight was different as the first non-astronaut, school teacher Christa McAuliffe, would be on board. I was 16 when it took place. There were news reports and stories about Mrs. McAuliffe as she trained for her flight. She was the best kind of celebrity. A normal person doing the extraordinary. How awesome it would have been to be her. I also remember watching the flight live on TV, and the shock of watching as the shuttle exploded and broke apart. I believe all of America stop breathing for several seconds, until the collective feeling of horrible grief hit. We felt grief for the lives just lost and for their families, who had to go on without them. We talked about it in school, and I recall one of my teachers asking us what we would do if such an opportunity arose. Knowing the incredible dangers involved, would we do what Mrs. McAuliffe did? I was among those who said with absolute certainty that they would. One can't help wondering what Christa McAuliffe would have done had she a premonition of what might happen. Would she still have boarded the shuttle? We'll never know, but I'm sure she would not have wanted to leave her family. Yet I can't help thinking that she would have stepped on board. Just as astronauts still do to this day, hoping their explorations will help us learn more about our world and that which surrounds us. As Mr. Gene Roddenberry wrote, "to boldly go where no man has gone before."
Next time you go outside, take a moment to look toward the sky, and think of all the men and women who have bravely taken that leap and who continue to do so. May their journeys never be made in vein.