Memories of the Challenger

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

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I remember where I was when "Challenger" exploded. I was 12 going on 13 (my birthday was just a week and half away at the time of this unfortunate tragedy). I was in school at the time. A couple of students from my class had just rolled the television into the classroom. When the TV was turned on, the shuttle had just blown up. But I did see a replay of the launch. I was stunned to see this happen on live TV. I later found out that the Astronauts had survived the explosion, but were killed on impact when their module hit the water below.

From: Wm.Clark Drew II

At the time of this Accident, I was in the 5th grade and living in Tampa. I still reside in Tampa to this day. I have seen a lot of tragedies over my 31 years of life: Chernobyl-April 1986, USS Stark explosion-May 1987, Northwest Airlines crash-Summer of 1987 and many more. not to mention the Oklahoma City bombing in April of 1995 and 9-11. Wm.Clark Drew II Tampa,Florida

From: Wm.Clark Drew II

I was a senior in high school and home sick from school that day. I can still see myself sitting on the floor in front of the t.v. watching the shuttle's launch. I still cry when I think back on my horror... my open-mouthed disbelief... that the shuttle was no more. That I had just watched people die. God rest their souls.

From: Carey

I was in third grade when the shuttle exploded, I was watching it with my classmates on the AV room's television. Our teacher, who had set a precedent for being mentally unstable with her dire predictions of armageddon and nuclear winter, made things rather bad for us. We were taping the launch (VCRs were new then) and we all watched, open mouthed. The rest of the day was spent by her telling us that God made this happen because He didn't want women in space. In the following days, she rewound it and played it over and over and over. Many of us were crying, and told our parents when we got home...but who would believe a story like that? I can't remember how many times she rewound and replayed that footage. Long story short, I can't watch the footage now without having some sort of visceral reaction. For many years, I had nightmares...I've been able to overcome most of those, but I still feel nauseous when I see that distinctive cloud of smoke. In the past few years, I've tried to track down this teacher, to discuss this and other things (making us practice air raids, telling us we should say "goodbye" instead of "goodnight" because Qadaffi was going to nuke us). The teacher is apparently no longer working for the school system. I don't know if she was retired or if she lost her job. If any of my classmates find this board...I was there, I experienced it too, and I know how you feel.

From: Kitsa

Written on September 15th, 2004 I was in the fourth grade in California and Ms. Yokomizo was reading from some book or another, when Mr. Tingley came over the loudspeaker to announce the Challenger explosion to the whole school. Ms. Y. stopped reading and instead began discussing the situation with the class. We had a teaching team that year, but I can't remember if Ms. Bruschetti was there that day. I'm pretty sure some of the kids were watching the whole thing on TV in the "media center" (which I found out after moving to the midwest a couple years later was the name everyone else had for the 'library.') I also recall seeing it on the television that night while my family was watching the evening news and the tripe that followed. As many here have noted about themselves, I was particulary impacted by the loss of Christa McAuliffe. I don't remember when I realized that this was such a pivotal point in modern history, but since the disaster I have made reference to my experiences and heard about other peoples experiences on several occasions. Like JFK for my mother's generation and 9/11 for my sister's, the first time something like this happens in your lifetime - and you are old enough to remember and comprehend the scope of the tragedy - it leaves an indeliable impression.

From: Tom Burgess

I remember where I was when I heard of the Challenger disaster. I was in the 8th grade at the time. In our school, the PA system would play light music in the hallways from some non-descript radio station. In any event, I was walking in the hallway, going to art class, when I heard about the explosion via the PA radio station. Initially, the reports were of a crash landing, not an explosion. It wasn't until I got home and saw the constant news coverage that I truly knew what had happened. It didn't come out until after the inquest that the "O" ring was the cause of the accident, and it always struck me as sad that 7 people lost their lives because of what amounted to faulty gaskets. Such is life. I cut out all of the articles on the disaster that I could find, and kept a meticulous scrap book of the event...a scrap book that was later thrown out by a "Spring cleaning" mother. This was definitely one of the defining moments of my youth.

From: Dave

I was a senior in high school in Hopedale, MA going to my last class of the day when one of my classmates told me, "The space shuttle just blew up." I didn't believe him, of course. After all, space shuttles just don't blow up, do they? I went to 20th Century America, and Mr. Nicholson had planty of AV eqipment, such as it was in 1986, in his classroom. In the usual chaos before class, some of the other kids may have said something about it. Then the principal came over the intercom. I can never tell a thing from voice or body language, but something about the way he said, "Attention all students and faculty," let me know something was very, very wrong. Holy ****, that kid was right! Mr. Nick turned the TV on and we watched the news play the tape again and again. When I got home, my mother was beside herself. She made me promise that I "would never get on one of those things." I remembered all of this when the Columbia broke up on re-entry.

From: Dan

I was at Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan January 28, 1986. It was during class and I was aimlessly roaming the halls, when my best friend Jim informed me that the Space Shuttle just blew up. I didn't believe him. 'Cut the crap', I said. After all, this was America. Ronald Regans America. The United States was the strongest, most technologically advance nation on the face of the Earth. To think that our rockets would be blown to smithereens right in front of our very eyes, Ha! Such a dramatic, shameful failure, Hell only the Russians could pull off something like that… But Jim insisted. Mind you, this was long before the days of 'Cable in The Classroom', but Jim had managed to see it live. One our schools Science teachers was a finalist in the 'Teacher In Space Program' and had made it as far as NASA training in Florida and Alabama before washing out. Said teacher, has gotten a TV from the AV Center and gathered up his Physics Class to watch the launch and the horror that followed. I think about that day sometimes. I was a punk rock kid, who hated Regan (and still do) and lived in real fear of Nukes flying a la The Day After, but I loved America. That day hurt me, much in the way I'm sure Watergate must have hurt my parents, and much in the same was that Columbine put the smackdown on another generation of young people. Something so ugly and tragic that you can never quite convince yourself that everything is going to be alright and really, truly believe it again…. Sigh.

From: Earl

I just remember watching the clips on T.V. over and over again.


I was 7 years old, in the 2nd grade. It is amazing how well I remember it. I was standing in lunch line with everyone else. We were lined up single file outside, near the cafeteria door when the principal made the announcement that the space shuttle had exploded. He asked that everyone bow their heads for a moment of silence. Most of the kids were confused and shocked, teachers were crying. They turned on the tv in the cafeteria and we all watched.

From: Will Rinehart

I was 20 years old, working at MicroSource Financial as a coop student. I ran to the showroom floor to see what all the yelling and screaming was about. There stood our inside sales reps, mouths open, some weeping, all watching the showroom widescreen. At first I didn't realize what I was watching. I know that the shuttle was to have taken off that day. I put it all together when I heard the TV newscaster repeat what everyone was watching. I couldn't believe what I was watching. The shuttle blew up? NO! not the US! My mouth was opened just like everyone else.

From: Rick

I remeber the Challenger. I was in 8th Grade and our English class went outside to watch the take off. You could see it from Tampa and the day was clear. I don't think we really realized what we were seeing until after we went back inside the classroom and there was an annoucement over the PA system that it exploded.

From: Kestra

I was 6 when the Challenger exploded. I was in my first grade class room in San Antonio Texas, and the principal made an announcement over the PA. He told us that there had been a national tradgedy, and we all had a moment of silence. We turned on our TV's in the classroom and watched the news for the rest of the day. Which was a pretty hard thing for a bunch of 1st graders. But we all seemed to understand. My teacher, Mrs. Burchfield, had a family member on the Challenger so it was a big deal to us.

From: Beth

I was just writing a report on the Challenger Explosion and I didn't ever know that this event happened. I know that it must have been terrible to see those people just die on live television. Those people on the shuttle never knew that it was going to happen and just because they were doing their job by going on a mission and all seven of them lost their lives.

From: Amber

It was in 7th grade spelling test I had actually studied for. But I just had no desire to take it - very odd since I normally didn't study. Mrs. ? walks in and whispers in my teachers ear (what I wouldn't have given to have been that ear). He stops the test, "Class, I have some disturbing news. A teacher, a school teacher, ... Challenger ... accident ...", - nothing registered. On the way home via the bus, the driver says, "The space shuttle blew up today." "What shuttle", I ask. "The one carrying the school teacher, you must have heard of it? On the news, maybe?" Yeah, I think I might have heard of it, but it didn't register. It doesn't register today. This is not a world of pefection? And yet, individuals belive perfection exist. Perfection does not exitst. Not without error.

From: Madison Taylor

I remember the day the shuttle exploded. I was 15 and I was at home listening to the radio when a news flash came on. I remember listening to the news, and tears falling down my face. I could not believe that happened. I sat there for at least an hour just crying. It was really a tragedy to hear something like that.

From: Donna

I was in college at the University of Central Arkansas. For some reason, I blew off Music History that day, went back to my apartment, made a smoked turkey sandwich with velveeta and Miracle Whip and a big glass of Quik. I was about to turn on MTV (years before it turned to complete crap. Did you know they used to show music videos?) Anyway, I started watching the shuttle and I remember thinking "Gee, I don't remember seeing the trail stop mid-air and split in 2 directions before." (I was really on top of things) So I called my dad, because he worked in a tall building between Tampa and Brandon, Florida and he always watched out the window across the state. He said the trail just went up and stopped. That was when it started to sink in for me.

From: Chris

The Challenger accident was the first major tragedy that I remember. I was in 7th grade History class with Coach Dorris and we were getting a special treat, because we were getting to watch history in the making - the Challenger launch on TV. We never got to watch TV at school & there were a couple of other classes in the same room with us. It was a very big deal because there was a teacher on board - Christa McAuliffe. I think all teachers felt a great sense of pride and wanted to share that with their students. We were all so excited as it finally lifted off and then I remember thinking, why are there two smoke clouds? The announcer started saying it had exploded & Coach Dorris walked over and turned the TV off. All the other classes had to go back to their rooms & we were just kinda left alone to try & figure out what had happened while the teachers/principal were figuring out what they should say to us & if we should get to watch any more TV. We didn't get to watch any more TV & I had to wait until I got home to see it again, which of course played over & over again on the news. It was a very sad time.

From: Michelle

I remember I was 17 and home sick that day and I went to my grandparents apartment (downstairs). My grandfather said "Did you hear the Challenger exploded?" Naively, and perhaps hopfully, I asked "Are there any survivors?" My grandfather made a motion with his hands and went "Boom, Elsa, EXPLODED." I was in shock.

From: Elsa

I remember very well the day. I was in Junior High School at Oakwood Middle School in East Detroit, (now Eastpoint), MI. My band teacher told the class. It was a very eery day after that. I remember in May of that year we had an 8th Grade Washington D.C. trip and visited the Smithsonian where they had just put up a Challenger Memorial. It was very depressing. I will always remember that day.

From: Eric

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