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Archive for March 10th, 2012

 

In January of 1986, I was in the 11th grade at Dreher High School in Columbia, SC.  I was a library aide for one of my periods.  It was during this period that I was in the library when the Challenger Space Shuttle was scheduled to lift off. In 1986, there wasn’t cable television in every classroom to watch important events like this.  Our special education teacher brought her classroom to the library to watch.  This wasn’t a classroom of children with normal learning abilities, but behavioral disorders.  It was a class with lower IQs and some other disorders.  I remember one little girl in the class was very excited to be watching the take off. With those students, their teacher and aides, the library staff and me, there were less that 20 people in the library, which was very large.  We were all sitting and standing around the television to watch the Challenger take off.

A little over a minute later, what we thought was part of the normal procedure was actually the malfunction and explosion of the shuttle.  A couple of minutes later, the announcer – I don’t recall if it was a reporter or an actual NASA employee – reveals to the spectators on site and the television viewing audience reveals that there has been a “major malfunction” and the shuttle has exploded.

I remember being shocked and sad for the people who were killed. The thing I remember most, however, is this little girl in the class that was watching becoming hysterical and inconsolable.  She just kept yelling, “No, that can’t happen. There is a teacher on that shuttle!”  That’s all she kept saying.  She was crying and yelling. The other kids were being really sweet and trying to calm her down while the teacher was doing the same thing.  The aides took the class back to their room, but the teacher had to take the girl to the office to the nurse so her parents could come get her. That stuck with me more than the image of those curling plumes of smoke I saw on TV.

A few years later, after I was out of college, I saw this girl with her parents at a baseball game I had take my grandma to.  Immediately, I was taken back to that day in the library and wondered if she ever thought about that day, if she ever got sad thinking about it, how it effected her over the years since I’d seen her.  I spoke to her because we had known each other in high school.  She remembered me, and seemed happy. To me her reaction was so pure and raw, so genuine because she didn’t have the constraints and reservations placed on us by how society expects us to act and react.  There have been plenty of times in my life where I wanted to yell “No! That can’t happen like that!”  Unfortunately, I have to hold that in and do my yelling later into my pillow or in the privacy of my house.

Today, on Yahoo!, I saw this link and it reminded me of that girl and made me wonder about her again.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/first-amateur-video-challenger-shuttle-explosion-revealed-185802006.html

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