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 in the 5th grade, and unfortunately had to witness the horror of some of the members in the Onizuka family. I went to school with his oldest daughter at Whitmire Elementary in a little town outside of Houston. We had all gathered in the cafeteria to watch the liftoff together. Out school had sent up a volleyball (Which was one of the few items actually recovered!!) a pill bottle full of rocks from our rock garden in front of the school and a few other items that I can't recall at present. This was truly devastating for our entire school, and I will still never forget wondering how his daughter felt actually watching the death of her father. It honestly haunts me to this day.
From: Stephanie Doyle
I was in recess after lunch in the seventh grade when the kids began to buzz that something had gone wrong. As the lunch period ended, I was in literature class when the intercom blasted the news to the school. It was devastating, and teachers and students were crying. I can remember being tranfixed by the coverage that afternoon, and then President Reagan's "slipped the surly bond of Earth and touched the face of God speech" that evening. The following morning, the radio stations played "Somewhere over China", a Jimmy Buffett song about flying the shuttle. Easily the "Kennedy Assassination" moment of gravity for gen x-ers much the way Kennedy was for our parents.
I was living in Charlotte, NC at the time. Me and my roommate were traveling down Central Ave when an emergency broadcast came over the radio. I knew it had to be serious so I pulled over in a Bojangles Restaurant parking lot and that is where we heard of the tragedy. I will never forget that day.
I will never forget the day that the Challenger exploded. I was in 5th grade, and because the lift off was scheduled during our lunch, our teacher, Harvey Center, was recording the event for us. When we came back in, I immediately noticed that his mood ball (a glass globe filled with colored water to correspond to his current mode) was yellow, which stood for sadness. He stood in front of the class and told us about the explosion. He chose not to show us the video, so unlike many students around the country (world?) I didn't see it until the evening news. And then that was all I saw for days afterward. I was heartbroken, to know that something so inspiring could become such a tragedy.
From: Julie Moore
All the teachers at the school were especially proud of their profession at the time and spoke about the upcoming lauch daily. I remember being in 6th grade studying a weekly reader when our teacher ran in the classroom pushing a TV on a cart. She hooked it up to a cable jack (we didn't have TVs built into classrooms yet, or air conditioning as a matter of fact...) and was shouting distraughtly that the space shuttle blew up just after launch. I guess I had hoped somehow the astronauts had parachuted to safety. Being 12 years old I still thought heros should be indistructable. The music teacher wrote a very nice song titled "Challenger, we remember you" and taught it to all the students. I still remember parts of it.
From: Angela from Tiffin, OH
I think it's a day we will all remember. I was in the seventh grade in art class. Our classroom was right by the lunchroom and I heard a lot of comotion outside so we all got a little anxious. Our teacher stepped out into the cafeteria and came back with the most tragic expression on her face. She briefly explained what happened and asked us all to walk quietly into the cafeteria. The entire school sat at the tables in silence as the principal made another announcement as to what had happened. It didn't seem real until they teachers turned on the televisions. My heart ached and tears filled my eyes. I felt as if I was the only one in the room and that the world was a cold dark place. I felt so bad for Christa who was so excited to go into space. Then I thought of all of her students and I thought of my teachers. I think because of Christa the incident was closer to home. I saved the newspaper that day and I still have it. It's a part of my life that was very painful, but it was also a part of my life that I don't want to forget because it makes me realize how precious life is.
I was 9 years old when the Challenger exploded. I remember it like it was yesterday. My mom always made it a point to have me, my sister and brother watch anything that had to do with the space program. So the day that the Challenger was to lift off, my mother got all us kids together, and we were watching the challenger on TV and just like that, I remember watching it explode right there on national television. To this day I still go numb just thinking about it. It is something that I will never ever forget.
From: Danielle Haven
The Challenger Disaster of 1986 is the most vivid childhood memory that I have. It is the one and only thing that I can truly remember every detail about without a doubt...I know where I was at the precise moment, what I was doing, thinking...everything. And it is also something that I am never going to forget. Like most children during this time, I was in third grade and as a special treat the whole school stopped what they were doing that day and were watching the launch all together. I mean everyone...there was not a sound in the entire school. It was a big thing. And then 73 seconds into it...it exploded before everyone's eyes. At first I was in complete shock as were most people. Then they kept replaying it over and over again. And the more times I saw it, the more real it became. Finally they turned off all the tv's and the tears started falling. Parents were called and the school was closed. I remember that day more vividly than any other and I believe I always will. It left a definite and deep impact upon my life and the lives of many children around the world watching the launch. Bless you Challenger crew.
From: Kristie M.
When the Challenger exploded, I was in my High School Sophmore Algebra or Computer Science class. It was the same room either way. Hell, I could probably even show you exactly where I was standing when I heard the news. I knew that the shuttle launch was that day, and I was looking forward to seeing a clip of it on the news when I got home. Then the teacher came in and informed us that the shuttle had exploded. We had a TV in the room, and a friend and I rigged it to pick up the local station (it was intended to play VHS tapes only). The class crowded around the TV, and we saw the footage that everyone would see about a thousand times over the next few months. Most of us were pretty quiet about it. After about 5 minutes of this, the teacher forced us to go on with class. There was never any sort of school announcement about the disaster. Most of the rest of the school found out about it when they got home that day. The day after the accident, I remember people already making extremely rude and cruel jokes about the dead. The Challenger Accident didn't directly affect me personally, but it reinforced my opinion that people are callous and uncaring. The disrespect shown to the Challenger astronauts that died needlessly reinforced that opinion quite strongly. The feeling was mitigated a bit when I went to see Star Trek IV, which showed an opening screen dedicating the film to the crew of Challenger. That opening screen recieved a standing ovation.
From: Gabriel Vampyre
Hey I was around the street when my mom came running outside crying and screaming on how there was a huge accident and that her friends dad was on it. So I told her to calm down. She was hurt for a while but she's healed. It was a bad day for history.
I remember that day as if it was this morning. I was up early with the kids and getting ready for work. I had the news on not actually paying attention with 2 small children running around. It wasn't until I got to work at 9:00 am that I had realized what actually happened. It was very heartbreaking and devastating. My first thought was the children and spouses of those astronauts. How will they endure the pain of losing their loved ones. I cried and cried to this day I still get emotional over this subject. I hope the family of the astronauts are doing well and and I send them my love and prayers. God Bless You All. Lynn
From: Lynn Rodgers
I would have to say that the Challenger explosion is the one thing Iremember from elementary school. After it happened, they brought the tv's into the classroom and all it showed was the explosion over and over again. I feel in my mind that this will be one US tragedy that I will never forget because when I think about it all I see is what I saw as a little girl in that classroom.
I was 6 went it happened. I remember mom ready to drop me off at school when we heard it on the radio. I was about to get out of the car when I heard it. I remember walking into the classroom and watching the updates on the tv.
At the time of the tragedy there was so much ice and snow on the ground in Nashville, TN that school had been canceled. At the age of 12 all I could think about that morning was how bad my luck was. Normally a snow day was a gift from God, but this was the one-day I actually wanted to go to school and participate in our assembly and all day science fairs. So there I was sitting on my Grandmother's sofa watching the Challenger when I noticed something was not quite right. Being the optimist that I often am I was sure that they had some how escaped and were in the water below, of course we all know that the seven heroes did not survive but instead died. In their death I have learned so many lessons, not just life and death issues but even day to day issues. I can attribute the Challenger explosion to my lesson that Media can make a story into what ever they want. Dick, Michael, Judith, Ron, Ellison, Greg and Christa all lost their life that day however the media latched so strongly to the Story of a fallen civilian that many of us do not remember the tragic stories of the other six Challenger Astronauts. Other lesson from the Challenger explosion include taking nothing for granted, understanding that things happen for a reason, that space exploration was not then and is not now routine and that group think, if not put in check, can cause tragic accidents. I came to this site because at work the consultant group that I am a part of is listing things that helped to form our personalities. As a child of the 80's so much effected me, the attempted assassination of both Reagan and Pope John Paul, the launch of MTV, reading C.S. Lewis' Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Star Wars Trilogy, but (until the death of Princess Diana) nothing has again grabbed my attention and effected my personality like the Challenger Tragedy..
I was in the 2nd grade in a very rural school in Willow Springs, NC... we were in the lunchroom, and I was in trouble and had to sit with my teacher at the table. In the noise of the cafeteria, a muffled message came over the intercom speaker. I made out the word "shuttle" and "White House"... the principal had put on a brief radio broadcast of the bulletin. My teacher left the lunchroom and came back upset, and she said, "The shuttle blew up!" We went back to class and watched CBS for the rest of the day. I remember having music class that afternoon, and the distraught teacher turned on the radio, and we listened to Dan Rather for an hour. Every person was still... every ear listening. I just rediscovered the Reagan speech, and it is so perfect.
I had stayed home from school that day, and was watching the launch. I remember thinking how cool to be a teacher and be in there. Thinking as well I had a few teachers I would LOVE to see in space. Then it happened. I will always remember crying and calling my mother at work telling her what happened. Our school at the time was also watching. They closed the school. It was a memory I will never forget. I now have children of my own and they know about that very hard part of history
I remember the Challenger death. It is not something I have tried ... ... to pointedly recall in a long time, probably in years. But it's like alot of other things from my childhood, things like Ronald Reagan's face; Gorbachev's head and the flag of the USSR; Max Headroom; Punky Brewster; learning to swim. Really, the reason I found this page was in a search for jokes, but I realized I had maybe some things I wanted to share about ... my feelings and memories. The Challenger isn't as vivid to me as the mind-numbing footage and coverage of Chernobyl, mostly because as a child I felt more connected to the event of Chernobyl as something that would affect me, than I did about the Challenger death ... deaths. I was 8 when the Challenger was going to be launched with a female teacher on board. I remember asking alot of questions over and over again, "Is she the first teacher in space, or the first woman in space? Is she the first woman teacher in space?" "What are they going up there for? What is the frog for? Plants, too ?" I remember my Weekly World Reader (or something like that) had alot of coverage of the event both before, as a herald of the opportunity to humanity the latest Challenger launch would represent; and after, as the tragedy it turned out to be. I remember I was sitting in my living room when I really began to absorb the information about the Challenger. I can't remember if I was in school or not when I first heard about it. I know I didn't cry, I didn't have a reason to. I was more or less a desensitized child even at 8, and my mind was a collective engine that thrived on simple pleasure, and occupied itself mostly with questions about warfare and how the cold war should be played. I remember my mother wasn't too upset, either. She maybe turned the TV on for me, maybe it was already on, when I began watching the explosion in the living room at Port Huron, Michigan. I was fascinated by the repetition of the shuttle launching and then blowing up, followed by multiple plays of the disintegration of the craft. I remember alot of whitish-grey smoke surrounding a dispersing frame that travelled toward the upper-right side of the screen while parts flew straight across to the right side. I remember asking alot of questions and occupying my mind with the event for at least a year afterward. At least for a few hours each day. Today I am still not sure what to make of it. I know it probably had alot of influence over my decision to move away from Florida a few years ago, about a week after the decision to launch the nuclear-powered Cassini went to full-ahead.
From: Gabriel Petrie
The Challenger is probably one of my most vivid childhood memories. I was in first grade and I wanted to be an astronaut. I didn't understand at the time, but I knew the fact that Christa was on board was a big deal, and I had a lot of respect for her. My teacher did as well, so we were all gathered around the tv in our classroom. I've never heard a classroom so quiet. We were all in shock as the shuttle exploded. Slowly, it started to hit each and every one of us and soon we were all in tears. I remember most vividly the sight of my favorite teacher weeping in front of the class. And I knew things were never going to be the same. Shortly afterwards, Punky Brewster ran a special episode in which Punky witnesses the accident in her classroom and her dream of becoming an astronaut dies along with Christa McAuliffe. Watching Punky experience exactly what I did brought back all the same emotions and I began weeping all over again.
I remember that day clearly. It was bright and sunny, but very cold for Florida. I lived Florida directly across the state from Cape Canaveral. I was just returning from lunch period in high school; my next class was Navy ROTC. As I walked into the classroom, the students were gathered in a small room at the rear of the classroom listening to a radio broadcast. I remember how my stomach felt when they told me what happened--it burned. When my sister and I got home that day my mother was minding the store at our family owned campground. She had tuned into the television coverage on an old black & white television. The three of us gathered together, held hands to form a circle and said a prayer for each of the seven astronauts, who at that time had not been recovered. What a sad day for all of us it was! It was however, yet another one of those events of the 80's that made growing up during that time a sobering experience.
From: Glenn R
I am ashamed to admit I had lost my appeal for space travel many years ago. It had become so routine that it seemed no more exciting than airplane travel. This particular launch, however, sparked my interest again. With Krista, an ordinary school teacher becoming part of the team. My husband and myself had been folowing details of the launch with a renewed excitement. I was 28 years old at the time. I was working nights, while my husband worked days. I remember him waking me up when he returned from work that day with tears in his eyes. He told me that the Challanger had exploded and all seven had died. I thought he must be kidding, he walked over and turned on the TV. There it was, I just sat on the end of the bed and watched as the tears fell like rain. Needless to say this reawakened my interest in the space field and I will never consider it routine again. There is always high risk and anything can happen. I still cry when I think of this tragedy to this day. Linda Young..Georgia
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This is one page of many, check out the intro at I Remember Challenger.