Memories of the Challenger

This is one page of many, check out the intro at I Remember Challenger for others.

This page currently edited by: Dagwood. Past editor: Junior

I was 8 years old. I had skipped school that day because I was sick. I was watching TV alone. My dad was in bed cause he worked 2nd shift. I wouldn't have seen it if it hadn't been for the fact that we only had 3 channels and that was the only thing on worth watching. I saw it live. It's one of the view events I can remember from my childhood.

From: Randy Yates

I was 25 when Challenger exploded. I was a cleaner for a church here in Rochester, NY. I just got home my girlfrend told me the news. I turned on the news and there it was tears came runing out. I kept saying those poor souls. I keep thinking about it every time one goes up.

From: hector. maldonado

I remember I was walking down the street and everyone was watching the television through these windows of a department store. I said "What's going on?" because I couldn't see very well. I'm a fairly short person. This really tall lady in front of me turned around and said, "President Kennedy has been shot. He's dead." I was like, "What? Then why are they showing all of that smoke in the sky?" And she was like, "He was in a parade in Texas and someone shot him." So again, I was like, "What are you talking about? Isn't that the replay of a space shuttle blowing up or something?" And she was like, "Even though I'm a Republican, I still respected the man. He was great." Then I said, "It's 1986." I had just seen "Back to the Future" fairly recently, so this was freaking me out. So I just left and went to a diner where I asked the guy behind the counter what was going on, and he told me the Challenger exploded. So I was like, "Oh. Some weird chick down the street told me that the president was shot." And he was like, "Reagan got shot again?!" Then he ran out of the diner crying. I went home and took a nap. It was a really weird day.

From: mike

As a graduate of Konawaena high school, I feel a close connection to Ellison Onizuka. We also grew up within miles of each other. I remember very fondly the day when he visited Kealakehe elementary school. All of the students and teachers gathered closely in the school cafeteria and watched intently as this humble, softspoken gentleman generously offered us his kind words of wisdom, several moments of humor, and instilled the importance of following our dreams, and in believing in ourselves. Ellison's courage and diligence in achieving his dream of becoming an astronaut was inspirational. Listening to Ellison speak of being in space was amazing. He explained in great detail how beautiful it was, and how peaceful the earth looked from such a great distance. He made me think..and wonder...and feel and dream. Many of us were still sleeping when the launch of the Challenger was taking place far away on that cold January morning. I will never forget the morning of January 28, 1986. As I walked into the library at Konawaena high school, I promptly asked the librarian how the launch had gone. She looked at me blankly, almost numb. She responded "there was an explosion, something went terribly wrong". Our worst fears came true when it was officially announced that the Challenger had exploded shortly after take off, and that it was unlikely any of her crew members survived. My world and heart stood very still on that day, and for many days after. I recall writing about this horrible day in my journal that night, wrought with feelings of overwhelming sadness and despair. We suffered a loss so incomprehensible. Kona lost a beloved son. I was in the 9th grade when this happened and shared several classes with Ellison's young neice, Lisa at the time. I felt so deeply for her and her family...I think I always will. They say that times heals all wounds, however in this case, I hope it is not true. What I do know is that 17 years later, my emotions still stir when yet another anniversary has come...when video footage is aired. It is hard to believe so much time has passed when it is still so deeply engrained in my memory. I never want to forget this day and I do not want anyone else to forget this day either- For what these noble people selflessly gave to our country and our space program was a precious gift. Perhaps most of all, I am so incredibly proud to be able to say that I met Colonel Ellison Onizuka in person! I was so fortunate to be able to listen to his own words...his voice. I am proud that we grew up on the same island in Hawaii. That we attended the same high school. The high school where the gymnasium is now named after him. You made us all proud, Ellison. You still do. Always will. "Come fly with me"- Ellison Onizuka

From: Deenah

I was on the recently-remodeled 6th floor of Pius XI High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mrs. Harvey and the rest of us were having a discussion in Speech class. I forget which section we were covering. Like a surreal dream, suddenly, on the intercom, we heard the unbelievable news, all the more dreadful because one of those astronauts was a teacher. Some cried, but most of us, including myself, sat silently in shock. We tried hard to come up with words (this being a speech class, after all), but nothing came to our voices. We did stop our class for a discussion, but I don't remember a darned thing about what anyone said. I just remember a beautiful and sunny day outside, yet our classroom was so shadowy and lacked any sort of color. Our faces looked blank and gray. I do remember Mrs. Harvey telling us that we would never forget where we were on that day. True indeed. She had lived through assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Marin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, and Malcolm X, not to mention having witnessed the great lunar landing, so she knew how certain moments last forever in one's life. I miss all of my classmates from Speech and Mrs. Harvey-- it was one of the best semesters of my life, in spite of the Challenger tragedy. It came closest to my ideal of the spirit and intelligence which is possible in education.

From: Mark Brannan

I was there. At Kennedy Space Center. I grew up in Brevard County, so, as much as I hate to say it, shuttle launches were often taken for granted. But my 4th grade class was on a field trip that day, so I watched it all happen from one of the closest locations available. And I took pictures of it the whole time, not knowing what was actually happening as I shot pictures in sequence of the explosion. None of us did at first. Then they evacuated the space center and on the buses, the teachers told us what just happened. It's amazing the impact it had, especially since NASA was one of our neighbors there in FL. A sister school opened up a year later called Christa McAuliffe Elementary, so we would always remember this mission and the special teacher who was aboard. Now, ironically, the shuttle for which my one of my schools was named after, Columbia, has just has a similar, devastating outcome just hours ago… once again, I learn not to take such things for granted.

From: Kara

I've lived in Orlando my whole life, and though I was less than four years old when Challenger exploded, I still remember watching the liftoff. The launches are viewable from some distance away, and my mother had brought me outside to watch this one take off. I remember the explosion looking like a knot tied with smoke, but I was too young to understand what had happened. Today, almost seventeen years later, we have suffered another loss with the breakup of Columbia during reentry. It brought back memories of Challenger, and is a reminder to all that space flight is dangerous work.

From: David

I remember it clearly. I 13 at the time, and was in the 8th grade. It was a "once in a life-time thing" my mother would say. She let me, and my older sister Jessica, come to watch it launch, with her and my dad. I was excited, and knew that it was an important occasion. My family arrived about an hour before launch. It was still crowded, but not nearly as much as it was, when it was full. I remember the 10 9 mom and dad held me and my sister extra tight. 3 2 1, take off. 73 seconds into the launch, and all of a sudden this great BOOM! and all of this fire and smoke. Everybody screamed, and I knew (b/c I was 13) that the Challenger had just exploded. My family cried for a week, non stop practically. A tragedy I won't forget.

From: Krista Alberts

I was in the 4th grade in 1986 at Hazehurst Elementary school in Hazelhurst PA. No longer is that school there but I am sure the silence that was a part of that day in January 1986 still is. I can remember having to miss recess because I was bad and listening to the little radio that was in the office of the school. I can remember going in to the room to listen as the two teachers that were in there talked about it. That day I hurried home with a friend named Matt Eck and all they did was replay over and over again the horrific explosion. That is my last rememberance of that day. This morning I got online and my Aunt Donna instant messenged me to tell me about the Space Shuttle Columbia's accident. Ya know this occurrence was almost 18 years to the date. The Challenger was my Kennedy Asassination. JCB

From: Jonathan C. Baum

This is the day after the Columbia mishap, It only reopen the memory of the prior lost of Astronauts . All three of these events the Men and Ladies were going into Space for the betterment of all We Miss 1. Apollo One's crew 2. the Challenger Crew and now 3. The Columbia Crew May they all be in " God's Hand"

From: Kathy Weisman

ASTRONAUT TRIBUTE by Roger W Hancock Challenger, Columbia, tributes to technology. Tribute of man goes to… Those who risk their lives. Techno shuttlecocks history, Heroes' death we mourn. We join in national grief, With loss to family, friends. Legacy is left, reminding us, When forging frontier path, Unknown dangers ever lurk. Tribute, we, a nation pay, To astronauts now gone, Sacrifice of life they gave, To scout the space unknown. Anticipation, apprehension Mixed emotions of crew. Duty to serve, jobs at hand, Courage builds one's nerves. Thanks to those who prepare, Future duty their destiny. Sacrifice debate, succumbed, Decision of elite become, When called an astronaut. Roger W Hancock copyright 2-2-2003

From: Roger W Hancock

HEROES' RISK by Roger W Hancock For all the knowledge, For all the care, In every document, In every blueprint; Risk lies in every frontier. Reaching beyond, Beyond our atmosphere. Impossible barrier, Barrier broken. Tests, plans, tests, Trials set before the plan. Contingency for every thought, None, unknown fought. Heroes before the deed, Such impossible task. National heroes die, The unknown succeeds. Back to the drawing board, Overcome the unknown. Pioneers of a new age, Break the mountain curse. Exploration, risk for knowledge, Lives on line for space crusade. Astronauts, our heroes, Men, women in bravery. Explorers of frontier space, Scouts of a new age. Every ambitious endeavor, Carries unknown danger. In fortitude, in perseverance; To reach beyond the risk. Roger W Hancock copyright 2-2-2003

From: Roger W Hancock

I was a Senior at a Lake Co. FL high school. Someone had pulled one of the fire alarms as a joke and the builing was evacuated to the football field. We were all just standing around when I looked over my friends shoulder and asked, "Who would be shooting bottle rockets off today?" It almost looked as if it was just down the block. My friend turned said that it wasn't bottle rockets, but he wasn't sure what it was. A couple of others from the astronomy club were more aware of what was going on. One of them shouted "That's over by the cape!" My friend turned on his car radio and we all realized what had happened. We must have stood there all day watching as the huge cloud of smoke and debris faded off. Coincidently, my middle son was born on Jan. 28 (six yrs. later)

From: Faith Britton

I was on the roof of my dorm at the Univ. of Miami, watching for the exhaust path of the shuttle with a portable TV. I was especially intrigued by this launch, as I was an education major and Christa was the 1st teacher in space. I had planned on watching the launch then making a made dash across campus so as not to be too late for my class. I knew, just knew, based on the smoke clouds something was wrong (I had been to the Cape to see other launches) I cried, ran down to my room to watch on a large TV, then ran to class and informed the professor. He was visably shaken, as he had applied to the teacher in space program. The Challenger was a defining moment of my generation. It is my "where were you when Kennedy was shot" moment, at least before 9/11. As a teacher, 9/11 was tough to process myself, and tougher to explain to my students. However, both of those events have changed the way I view the world. And now today, a day after the Columbia broke apart upon re-entry, I find I shed the same tears for another defining moment in my life...and unfortunately it is the second moment I have had to explain to my 7 year old son.

From: Renee K

I was just 3 years old when the Challenger exploded, but I remember when I was in the 5th grade I did a report on Christa McAullife. I had on one of my dad's hard hats with a piece of paper taped over the front that said NASA and a jump suit with NASA and space pictures drawn all over it. It was truly remarkable and a sad thing to learn about. Now after doing that book report, the names, dates, and facts, stick in my head that I probably would of never known. It was truly a tragedy and now as we look at what comes now- its even harder to be reminded.

From: Mandy Flaherty

I was in the fourth grade and I remember watching it and being in total shock! My teacher cried and cried. I wasn't sure what to think. It's odd that I came across this page today because of the Columbia blowing up yesterday 2/1/03. It's so eerie!

From: Angela Rosenberger

When the Challenger incident occured I had just turned 2 years old like a month before on December the 23rd. So I don't remember anything about the Challenger. Although my grandmother was telling me that she was at Service Merchandice paying for somthing in line when she found out. They had a radio on in the store. She quickly ran home. The reason that I logged on to this site was because yesterday A similiar event took place when the Columbia space shuttle crashed. Although I don't remember the Challenger I will always remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard about Columbia just yesterday. On Saturday morning Feb. 1st 2003. I am now barely 19 years old so this took place 17 years after the Challenger. I remember hearing the horrible event take place as I was outside watching as it landed. The debrie was found several hours away from where I was at around Temple Texas but it was still pretty loud and I heard it. I was at my friend Jeff's house and he had the tv on and informed me about what happened. I was in such shock. All that can be said from this is bless the souls that are brave enough to explore space. This was a horrible tragedy and for their families I faithfully pray that they know that god is with them. It is good that we have people go into space but it is very sad when things don't work out. I also remember in 2001 my Senior year of high school when the horrible trade center incident occured I was so shocked for a second my heart sank down into my stomach. Some of those same feelings came back for me yesterday when I heard about the Columbia space ship. They showed several photos of the Challenger as well and thats what made me come to this site cuz I don't remember the Challenger and wanted to find out more. Bless all of the astronauts that are brave enough to explore space they will always be considered heros and those that died died heros for our country. Bless them and their families.

From: Megan

I remember that day like it was yesterday. My oldest daughter, Ashley was in Kindergarten at the time. She came home crying about the whole situation. She was only 5 years old, but she seemed to understand what was going on. All I could do was hold her and cry with her. We both felt a great sense of loss that day.

From: Teresa Moore

February 1, 2003: And now there are seven more to be remembered and honored... Five more brave men and two more brave women.

From: Bill King

I still cry today, 17 years after the fact. I was only 7 back then. But I still remeber that tragic moment as if were just yesterday. I pray that those brave souls have found peace with the father in the afterlife. You will never be forgotten! I also pray for those brave souls who lost their lives on board the Columbia 2 days ago. May God look after you from now till eternity! Love Always, Cat.

From: Catrissa Lightfoot

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