by the Night Writer
It was 25 years ago today when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on live TV shortly after take-off, killing the seven astronauts (including a civilian schoolteacher who was part of the mission) while the nation watched in horror. I was at work that day and I don’t recall how we first heard the news. Nobody had internet access in the office in those days and few listened to the radio in our office. Someone probably got a call from outside, but the news spread quickly. One of my co-workers had a computer monitor that could pick up TV signals, so we gathered around that constantly, hoping minute by minute for more news or an explanation. After about an hour my boss came over and told us all, gently, that we needed to get back to work.
I felt depressed and almost ill all day after that and that night at home I got one of those junk calls – someone selling siding or something. Rather than hang up or ream him out or play with his mind as I typically did back then I said, “You know, I really just don’t feel like getting into this right now.” The caller responded, “Yeah, I know what you mean.” We then spent the next five or ten minutes talking about the Challenger and the astronauts, their families and what the President had said and then we hung up.
In those few minutes, in that most unlikely situation, and in that shared tragedy we, too, “slipped the surly bonds of earth” and our isolated lives to become part of something much greater.