Feb 1, 2003

Cause of Fiery Fall Is Unknown; Ship Was Fleet’s Oldest Today’s sadness, the tragic destruction of the space shuttle Columbia so close its landing, made me think back to 1981 and 1986. In ’81 I was a fifth grader writing a short paper about Columbia (my mother was my teacher at Saints Peter and Paul School in Nampa, Idaho). I searched my storage bins today looking for that old paper, but it must be in storage in Cleveland. Our class watched the historic landing of the shuttle, and I felt so proud and so inspired.

In 1986, I walked into the band room at DeKalb High School to find the conductor and a handful of students huddled around a television watching coverage of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. I was horrified, shaken. Between ’81 and ’86 I’d read James Michener’s Space and Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff and I had dreams of going to space. Dad took me to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, and I spent a long moment looking at the space capsules there. I’ll spend a long silent moment tonight thinking of the seven brave astronauts that gave their lives today.

Anton Zuiker

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