Memories of the Challenger

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

I remember the Challenger explotion and it was very sad!! I was at school watching it when I was in fifth grade and it was very sad to watch my teacher explode!

From: Danielle

I was in 11th grade. We had the day off from school because of the snow and cold temps in the Pittsburgh area that day. I was waiting to hear if our HS basketball game was going to be cancelled that night. I was watching TV and just couldn't believe it. I loved the space program, watching the flights. Now it seemed the whole thing was over. Later that night our game went on and we had a moment of silence for the SEVEN. My mom always tells me where she was when JFK got shot. I will never forget the day when the rockets stopped!!!!

From: John in PITTSBURGH

I was at work and eating lunch when it came over the news - I don't think I will ever forget that moment. Everyone was in shock - no one though this kind of thing would ever happen. This has it's place in history and no one who was alive at the time and moment will ever forget where they were.

From: Ellen

I was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater and I was walking through the student union between classes. When I entered the union, I was immediately struck by the silence in the building. Usually the halls were filled with conversations and laughter. Nobody was walking around. As I started down the hall I noticed a crowd of people gathered in and around the lounge. It had a TV and was enclosed with glass walls. I wandered over to ask someone what was going on and as I looked at the faces of the students around me I got goose bumps. I knew something terrible was happening. As I got closer I could see the TV and it was showing a replay of the Shuttle Launch. Before I had the chance to ask what had happened, I saw it on the screen. Words cannot adequately describe how I felt. At first I was numb. How could this happen? This is the United States, the first people to walk on the moon, how could we let this happen? I looked around and I saw tears in the eyes of the students around me and then it started to sink in. It was like being in an airplane when it drops a few hundred feet in a second or two. My stomach felt like it was lodged in my throat. I'll never forget the tremendous sadness that filled the union that day, or the way we whispered after, instead of speaking in normal voices. Everyone knew this would be a day we would never forget, and even today I get choked up, my arms covered in goose bumps, just remembering. God, bless all those who died that day. It was the first tragedy in my life that fell squarely on me as an adult. I realized the immensity of this tremendous loss, and I think a piece of my youth was lost as well.

From: John Borys

On January 28, 1986, it was my 4th birthday. I do not remember exactly where I was (probably with my grandmother) but I think that was the same year that my mom had to go to the emergency room because she cut her hand serving ice cream with my birthday cake. It's pretty strange to know that every year on your birthday, this terrible tragedy will be remembered.

From: Amanda Sanford

Well, I was born November 29, 1986 so obvisuly I wasn't alive, but I am doing a project on Ms. McAuliffe, and I stumbled on to this page. My mom was a teacher and back when this happened. She and her 2nd graders were all watching it on tv,(because, I guess, she was going to give a lesson on space) and all the kids were happy and all of a sudden, poof!! it blew up. The kids didn't know what happend, but of course my mother knew. Everyone in the school said a prayer that day and calmly and rationally they explained to the younger children what had happend.

From: Allison

I will always remember the Challenger disaster. I was in 3rd grade and I remember a teachers aide coming into our class and telling us about the accident. Everyone was really quiet. The next thing I remember is walking into our den and asking my dad if he had heard about the accident. Of course he was already watching the coverage. I also remember that our class had to write a paper on why we thought the Challenger had exploded. It's funny how certain things will always stick with you. - We miss you Challenger crew

From: Kevin

The day the shuttle exploded I was at home. I was 13 and having the flu for the very first time. I was cuddled up in my fathers recliner with a blanket and a cup of boullion. I trembled as I watched it happen and realized exactly what was happening. I stayed glued to the TV all day hoping that by some miracle that someone had survived that awful explosion. For days afterward I had dreams of them finding a survivor. My heart goes out to the families and I want them to know that I shared in their grief.

From: Mickie

I remember the Challenger disaster like it was yesterday. I was in sixth grade at St. Alphonsus School in Chicago. Ms. Kudek being a very avid space nut had wheeled a TV into the classroom for us to watch the launch. She was particularly excited about the Teacher in Space program. Well, we tuned in to NBC News and watched from about 5 minutes before the launch. Then there was liftoff, and it was beautiful. The next thing I remember is "Go to throttle" from the NASA ground crew, and the explosion. I distinctly remember the news anchor (Was it Tom Brokaw? I don't remember) saying "Oh my God!" and silence before he could even speak again. We were all devastated. I think Ms. Kudek was even more devastated than we were. In between sobs she said, "Everyone stay here," and left the room. A few moments later the principal announced to the school what had happened. For the rest of the day it was as if we were all zombified. I had an orthodontist appointment around noon, and when my mom had picked me up, she hadn't heard about it. I don't think she believed me at first. When we got to the dentist's office, there was a row of paper racks outside. I pointed to The Chicago Tribune, The Sun-Times, and USA Today, and showed her the picture. I think it hit her then as well. I still have that copy of the Tribune, and a model of the Challenger in my old room at my mom's. Rest in peace, Challenger and her crew.

From: Brian

I will remember this day for the rest of my life. I was working on site the day the the Challenger and crew were lost. I was working on airducts at the time in a building that was being renovated. We all stopped working because it was to cold to touch the metal with our hands. About 4 of us had walked out to watch the launch and kept joking it was not going up again because it was too cold. I even said it looked like a big ice pop on a stick. You can hear the launch over the pa on site and at the time of the count down one of my co-workers said the luanches were getting so routine. As it cleared the tower, I was watching and as it roseup it just looked so grand. Then, I can still hear it like it was today, Challenger go at throttle up, roger, go at throttle up............................. We all left that day never the same. I came back in 1988 to view the next launch and pray for all crew members at every launch.

From: sal ormond

I remember January 28th, 1986 very well. I was in the 6th grade at Warwick Neck Elementary School in my hometown of Warwick, RI. Technology slowly percolated into our school then; we'd recently furnished an entire room with Commodore 64 computers and dubbed it the "Computer Room". That same room was a place where other technological devices were kept, such as overheads and televisions--equipped with never-before-seen video casette recorders, and bolstered with access to local cable television. If you remember cable in those days, Cable News Network (CNN) and of course, Music Television (MTV) dominated the television sets across America. When VCRs were not playing the most recently released blockbuster hit movie (Spies Like Us and Back to the Future remain favorites), CNN and local news always had Ronald Reagan and his anti-Communist rhetoric, Ollie North and his excuses concerning the Contras, and of course, the latest hijacking or act of terrorism. Being in grade school at the time, I would always escape into the video game world which the Atari 2600 so ably offered, or of course, the music video world which MTV broadcasted 24-7--at least back then they did. At school, if we were good, we were allowed to go into the "Computer Room" and watch music videos for maybe fifteen minutes. It is beyond me as to why we were allowed this otherwise non-pedagogical activity, considering how adamantly teachers were against MTV and "Devil Music" back then (I say 'non-pedagogical' because fourteen years later, I am training to be a teacher myself, and am teaching 8th-graders who were born in '86! My chosen vocation is no hindrance to my love for the 80s one bit, however). We soon correlated the Computer Room with "Video Time". Teachers back then were just as lost with the primitive Commodores and their disk-operated systems, as many are today with Windows 95 and all of its programs like PowerPoint. Why would we expect to use computers? On the morning of January 28th, 1986, our science teacher, Doctor Melander, came into our room with an announcement. She told us we were sixth graders, the most mature of the school's student body. Therefore, we would be capable of watching something that happened on television moments before, and understanding thereof. All we knew was that we were heading to the Computer Room for TV. That, as I've said, usually meant one thing. She turned on the set as soon as we were all settled. I was hoping to see Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, or Twisted Sister, which were, and admittedly remain, favorite groups of mine (yeah, I'm a loser, I know). What we saw was a blue sky on the screen, and the space shuttle rocketing into the atmosphere. Suddenly, it exploded into that very famous cloud which appeared on magazines and in newspapers for years thereafter. We mistook the sudden explosion--which some of society's deviants tried to say was the face of Satan himself--for a new video, one of those Exclusive MTV Premiers. You see, we were misinformed as to why we had come to the Computer Room, so we thought that what we were seeing was a video, and reacted to that tragic event accordingly--according to how 11 year-olds in 1986 usually did react to such sudden things. "Wow! Cool! Awesome!" filled the room. Doctor Melander was outraged and furious. She immediately turned the television off just as I could make out what a CNN correspondant was saying. I'll never know why she just spontaneously assembled us into the Computer Room and turned on the TV and allowed us to simply view a mid-air explosion, without first informing us of the tragedy. Such things were common on PrimeTime TV back then, as well as on music videos, explosions, that is. Nevertheless, she gave us a lecture on how disappointed she was with our lack of maturity in dealing with what we, at that moment, did not know had happened. She was also in tears, as she related that she knew Christa McAuliffe personally. In the week which followed, jokes with which we are now all-too familiar spread around the school yard, during recess. Even though I was 11, I never once thought they were appropriate, and dared not repeat them at home. When I became cognizant of what actually had happened, when it began to sink in that seven people had suddenly died in a horrible mid-air explosion, I felt sorry for their families. It's so ironic that my initial impression of the Space Shuttle exploding on January 28, 1986 was that it was 'cool', but how was I, or we supposed to know? One thing became clear to me by the end of that week, after watching the nation's response on TV: Life can be very short. --John Sampson, March 5, 2000

From: John Sampson

I was only 3 years old when the Challenger was on the launch-pad. I don't remember anything that far back. But now that I am in high school I decided to do a english project on it and the people who died. When I was in elementary school I went to the school Christa McAuliffe. Now that I look make at the years that I was in elementary it really means a lot to me that I can remember the ceremony that our school had in memorial of her and the other six passengers.

From: Jennifer

The day of the Challenger accident, I was typing a paper for my brother-in-law and he said something about the Challenger exploding. I got mad and told him that wasn't funny...he told me he wasn't kidding, it really had exploded. I couldn't accept it. I just kept saying there was a teacher on didn't seem possible. Fourteen years later I'm working on a play about the Challenger for the high school where my daughter attends. I'm doing the costumes and while doing research I come across this website....working on this play brings all the pain and the confusion from that day back again and it's good to be able to share with others who were affected. Thank you.

From: Laura Lee Hanchar

I was in my first year in college and had stayed home sick that day. I watched the launch and then sat mesmerized by the tv for hours and hours watching the continuous coverage over and over and over again. I could not stop watching.

From: stefanie

I was home from work with a cold, 7 months pregnant. I remember sitting on the couch feeling absolutely awful. I saw the whole thing happen and I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it actually blew up. I grew up in Mohawk, NY., the same hometown of Greg Jarvis. I didn't know him, but my brother went to school with him and my parents were friends with his. Mohawk is a very small town and everyone was just so proud of him. My parents were wintering in Cocoa Beach at the time and saw the whole thing. They were so upset. Greg's Dad was at NASA. I just can't imagine what he went through seeing the Challenger blow up knowing his son was on it. There can be nothing on earth more horrifying than watching your child's death. There is a headstone in the Mohawk Cemetery for Greg, not far from where my Mother is buried. It is a very simple stone, with his picture in uniform on it. A quiet memorial for a man who will not soon be forgotten. Mohawk Central High School was renamed Gregory B. Jarvis High School, in his honor. We all wish he could be with us to see it.

From: Darcy McAllister

I sat by my tv, watching in amazement as the Challenger lifted-off the pad. Less than 1 minute later, I was crying, not in pride, but in pain. I felt the horror and the disbelief that millions of people throughout the world experienced at the same time. I could only imagine how the friends and families of the true "American Heroes" could have felt. I said a prayer for each and everyone of them, in which I asked for God's guidance and understanding during this time. I only hope that their grief was relieved by the grace of our Heavenly Father..... I know His hands were open wide for OUR friends of the Challenger.

From: Tommy in Georgia

I logged on to this website because my 7 year old son, Adam, is doing a report for his 2nd grade class about people who made a difference. Judy Resnik, an astronaut on the Challenger, was my aunt. I am so pleased and proud that people take the time to write their thoughts about the accident and the crew of the Challenger. I will never forget that day in January of 1986, it was so public and yet so private. I will never forget the pain I felt for my grandfather, Dr. Marvin Resnik. It was an honor for me to be present at the dedication of the Challenger memorial at Arlington National Cemetary, a place I hope to visit again. Though I was only 20 when the accident happened and I am 35 now, I still wonder what would have been if it had never happened, so many people with so much potential. I hope that their memories will always bring happiness and, most of all, education of young people everywhere. Even though their death was a tragedy I know that people will remember that they died doing something that they loved and believed in. God Bless them all.

From: Beth

I remember the Challanger explosion very well. My husband and I were in Florida at a campground. I can remember hearing a lady yelling through the campground "the space shuttle blew up !" For days after, we mourned with Florida and the whole world. We saved everything out of the newspapers and magazines. Now our son, who is 12, is going a big report on Christa McAuliffe .

From: Cindy

I was four years old, and I lived in Micco, FL (about an hour south of Kennedy Spacce Center). I remember going out back to watch the launch like we always did. I watched and waited, but I the space shuttle never appeared above the trees. All I saw was smoke. I heard my stepdad tell my mom that it had exploded. "Oh you're kidding!" my mom said. But he wasn't.

From: Sarah

It would be exciting to see a teacher go into space. As a Technology Education and Science teacher covering a "Man in Space" unit, I set up a TV in my classroom in anticipation of Christa's broadcasts. We would have watched the launch but I wasn't teaching Science during that time of the day. When I heard the news, I was distraught and felt very empty. Not only had Christa McCauliffe been lost, but also another woman described once as "the brightest rising star on NASA's horizon." It wasn't typical for me to have female heroes, but Judy Resnick had become one for me. Judy's and Christa's stories had given me opportunities to pump up the interest of my female students and I hoped the experience would serve as a motivation for them in a still male dominated society. I heard the news shortly before my Science class. As I entered, I saw the dark TV and just didn't feel like teaching. I left the television where it was for another three days, as a silent testament to the lessons that would never come, the brave woman who would have delivered them, and the crew who dedicated their careers and lost their lives in one of humankind's greatest endeavors of hope and progress: the exploration of space. Brant Watson

From: Brant Watson

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