Fleeting Stars- Remembering the Space Shuttle Challenger

Fleeting Stars- Remembering the Space Shuttle Challenger

January 26, 2016 will mark the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. 7 astronauts lost their lives 73 seconds into flight.

Photo of the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger

The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger

Back then in 1986, I was living on Oahu- with big hair and big dreams. While being an astronaut was not one of them, I couldn’t help share the excitement around the historic event.

picture of Nanci Hersh from the 1980s

Here I am with big hair (my first and only perm!) at work at the Pegge Hopper Gallery in Honolulu, HI

Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher from Concord, New Hampshire was selected to be on that mission.  

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Scheduled to teach a class from space, her students were among the many who watched in horror as the rocket burst into flames in front of their eyes. Chuck Klosterman in his article for AARP about the Challenger disaster, Fire in the Sky writes that “Emotional memories don’t translate through textbooks. “

Explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger on January 26, 1986

Explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger on January 26, 1986

How we all remember where we were or what we were doing when we first heard about the Challenger, or saw the events of 9/11 unfold on television. Some of us may remember where we were when we learned that JFK or Martin Luther King, JR were shot. A visceral response that becomes a shared history, reminding us of our humanity and our fragility.

110NatesButterflies

My son Nate’s drawing used in our book Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings.

I can’t help but marvel, wonder and reflect, on how we are fleeting stars in this universe, yet have the ability to connect with each other in ways not always known, regardless of time and space.

2 Comments

  1. Liza myers
    January 21, 2016

    Nanci, thank you for a heartfelt reminder of these courageous adventurers. I remember that day so clearly. I was teaching at a school in Vermont having lunch with a few faculty members when the school secretary ran into the cafeteria with the news. It was a numb day.
    Yes we are are fleeting stars. I too am grateful for the connections across time and distance.

    Reply
    • Nanci Hersh
      January 21, 2016

      Thanks for sharing your memory Liza. It was also particularly sad as Ellison Onizuka, the first Asian American astronaut was on the Challenger. Originally from the Big Island of Hawaii it was all over the news in the islands where I was living.

      Reply

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