I remember that I was in fifth grade, and I wanted to stay inside from recess to watch the launch live, but Mr. Rader made me go outside and play.
I came in early and asked, "Did the shuttle get up okay?"
He simply said, "It blew up."
I was so stunned that I couldn't speak for a moment. How could he make such a horrible joke? "That's not even funny," I said.
He put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I wish I was joking."
I think this hit me really hard because I wanted to be an astronaut someday, and I really admired teachers, and here in an instant, a horrible moment, my dreams and hopes were shattered, and seven brave people died for it. One of whom was, of course, Christa McAuliffe.
I don't remember anything else about that day. I don't really remember the Punky Brewster episode later. Just getting that news... I couldn't have been more surprised and hurt if my teacher had kicked me in the face.
I must have seen the footage that evening. I probably saw it over and over and over again. That image of the SRBs spiraling away is something I'll never really forget, even if I wanted to.
"I cannot join the space program and restart my life as an astronaut, but this opportunity to connect my abilities as an educator with my interests in history and space is a unique opportunity to fulfill my early fantasies." --Crista McAuliffe
Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, and Judith Resnik
Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, and Ronald McNair