Twenty-five years ago today the nation experienced the great tragedy of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, which claimed the lives of the seven astronauts on board.
I was in the second or third grade (much of that time of life is a bit blurred in my memory) and was very excited about the experiments Christa McAuliffe was going to perform for students throughout the country.
For whatever reason, my class was outside at recess when the Challenger lifted off of the platform at 11:37 a.m. EST and so did not see the live feed into classrooms provided by the NASA, perhaps providentially.
As a boy, I never cared much for recess, particularly in the winter. I remember walking around the playground with my teacher complaining about the cold (some things never change) and talking about the Challenger mission.
As we walked about someone came outside and told of us of the explosion, and my teacher and I both began to cry tears of sadness for the loss of the astronauts.
I remember seeing the footage of the explosion later in the day and listening to the continuing news coverage of the aftermath.
The Challenger explosion is the first real memory of sadness that I have, which was all too quickly followed by the death of my father only 23 days later.