Before the launch, I was watching coverage on Fox News and they were talking about today's overcast weather when Shep Smith described previous launches he'd attended and the amazing feeling he gotten while watching our rockets blast off into the "clear blue sky", and suddenly I was hit with a flood of memories of things burned into my mind forever that came out of the clear blue sky...
The jihad came to us from out of the clear blue sky on September 11, 2001. It had been a gorgeous morning before the islamic terrorists came to kill thousands of us, and 60 miles north of Manhattan where I live in Dutchess County, it was disturbing to look up at the beautiful pristine sky above with the knowledge that less than an hour away the skies were filled with flames, smoke, horror and death. You can read my story about that day and the days which followed HERE.
There are some lines from Pink Floyd's Goodbye Blue Sky that always come to mind when I think of that day:
Did-did-did-did-you ever wonder why we had to run for shelterIndeed it does. Even the video made long before the attacks, for a song about England in WWII, contains images that remind me - maybe not such a coincidence when you think about the fact that muslims collaborated with the Nazis...
When the promise of a brave new world
Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?
The flames are all long gone, but the pain lingers on.
I remember twenty five years ago sitting in an eighth grade Catholic school classroom as our teacher set up a television set so we could witness the historic event of the first civilian, a teacher, being sent up into space with the Challenger shuttle. We watched it launch into the clear blue sky with pride awe and then horror as a few seconds later the worst thing imaginable happened. We were sent home and I remember watching the coverage and praying that there would somehow be survivors, but there were none.
That night, I watched with my family as Ronald Reagan comforted the nation and I learned what true leadership looks like.
The Columbia shuttle disaster also tore up a clear blue sky, as it was returning to Earth. Again, tragedy came on an otherwise gorgeous day, and again, an American President offered comfort to a nation in grief:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.
Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But, we've never lost an astronaut in flight; we've never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.
For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, 'Give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy.' They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.
We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.
And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.
I've always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don't hide our space program. We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute. We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue. I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: "Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it."
There's a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, 'He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.' Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.
The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'
President Ronald Reagan - January 28, 1986
May the Atlantis crew find their way back home to us safely at the completion of their final mission. May America some day soon reclaim it's rightful position as the leader of the free world and in exploration of what lies beyond once again, and may we get through the next 561 days without any major national catastrophes so that we can be spared a bumbling, disconnected, insincere reading off of a teleprompter that would only serve to mock our pain. May we be blessed again with real American leadership and may it not be too late when it arrives.
This post is quoted from and linked to at Blazing Cat Fur. Thank you, BCF!
This post is quoted from and linked to at Pundit & Pundette. Thanks, Jill!
This post is linked at The Other McCain. Thank you!
This post is linked at The Other McCain. Thank you!
This post is linked at Eye of Polyphemus. Thanks, Jamie!
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