By: Buzz Aldrin:
As we reflect on the tragic loss of Challenger and her brave crew of heroes aboard that fateful day, Jan. 28, 1986, I am reminded that they truly represented the best of us. As they climbed aloft on a plume of propellant gasses, reaching for the stars, they inspired us who were earthbound.
They represented the inspiration that is uniquely space and planned to share their experiences with the classrooms of future explorers who might one day follow their path — and, perhaps, reach higher still — because of this great mission. A mission so tragically ended was, in a moment, etched forever in our hearts and memories.
As we grieved at this great loss, President Ronald Reagan recited lines from another American hero — John Gillespie Magee Jr.’s memorable poem, “High Flight” — and reminded a grieving nation that “they slipped the surly bounds of Earth” to “touch the face of God.” The words inspired us, describing for us in poetry the great sacrifice and noble cause of the Challenger crew.
I am also reminded of three friends and heroes who we lost in the Apollo 1 fire — particularly my friend, Ed White, fellow West Pointer, track team and squadron-mate.
Just 2 1/2 years after that tragic day, we boldly made our way to the moon, a journey we would complete in their honor with my colleagues, Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins, aboard Apollo 11. Read more>>