Suspend disbelief - have an adventure
Lettes to God
It was 1986, and my entire grade school
was crowded into the gym to watch the launch of the Challenger. Shuttle
launches were a big deal back then. Astronauts were cool; the height of
physical and mental perfection, mad skills in advanced sciences and practical
engineering. It was every kids’ dream to be an astronaut, even the ones who
wouldn’t admit it in public.
Our principal, a middle-aged dude, who
had failed out of flight school and ended up in the public school system, had just
finished giving a very passionate speech about how if we applied ourselves we
could all become astronauts. Challenger lifted off, thick plumes of dense smoke
billowing from its thrusters. We all cheered as the screen showed the shuttle
lifting ponderously into the sky. Every kid in the gym wanted, at that moment,
to be an astronaut.
The shuttle exploded seconds later. They
never found more than a finger of the seven-person crew. That finger was burnt,
so identification was impossible. It shook the nation, the entire planet. For
the first time we all realized sitting on top of a half million gallons of
rocket fuel, and then igniting it, might not be the most successful of survival
instincts. I wanted to be an astronaut more than ever.