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28 January 2011 @ 11:15 pm
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth…  

‎Years ago, Dad asked me if there was a JFK assassination moment in my life. One where everybody in my generation could say, instantly, where they had been, what they’d been doing. How they felt.

I do not know anyone in my generation who cannot tell me where they were when the Challenger exploded.

I was on my way to school with Dad, in our little old orange Datsun, when it was announced on the radio. I couldn’t believe it. Some part of me still can’t. I went in to wait for the school doors to open, the first one there, and minutes later a few other kids came in talking about it. They talked a lot. I didn’t. I still can’t without tearing up. Twenty-five years later, I’m still shocked by it.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John McGee
(x-posted from the essential kit)
(Deleted comment)
Geek of Weird Shit: fireygows on January 28th, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
*nods* There were rumors that our high school chem teacher was the second runner-up, and that after the Challenger that she was always a little bit . . . cracked.
Lady Doomlithera on January 28th, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
I still watch them launch, when I can.

Y'see, I didn't watch that day. We were living in Hawaii and running late that day, so I didn't get to school until after it had all happened. I was so into space then and everyone knew it. I thought it was a horrible, horrible joke until I saw the footage.
irishkateirishkate on January 28th, 2011 10:58 pm (UTC)
I remember it- I remember being disappointed by it, but no, I have no idea where I was or when I heard, though I cared deeply.
Lauraskeagsidhe on January 28th, 2011 11:04 pm (UTC)
I too knew a teacher who was, if not a finalist, definitely in the running to be on that mission. She was more than a little disturbed about what happened, though she remained a huge advocate of the space program and was responsible for more than 1 kid getting super-interested in space science.

I was in school when it happened. We were watching the launch on TV and had spent weeks talking about it beforehand. Our science schedule for the next week had been structured around the classes that were going to be taught live from space. I still remember the pattern of the smoke from the explosion-- it looked kind of like a swan. I doubt I'll ever forget that smoke.
LurkerWithout: sad Death of Rats in snowlurkerwithout on January 28th, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC)
Art class, 5th grade.
Pamela: Woofersjeditigger on January 28th, 2011 11:24 pm (UTC)
Yep, you never forget when you heard about that explosion.
hegemony hedgehogagrimony on January 28th, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC)
I was at a desk in the classroom, sitting in the front row, with my lunch in front of me because we were watching the launch so they had us do lunch in our homerooms.
cainle_bean on January 29th, 2011 12:48 am (UTC)
I was in school. My school always showed the launches. This year it was in the lunchroom and there were mabye 10 of us watching.
rfrancis on January 29th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC)
I have three, and yes, this is one of them. I was walking through the high school (so old, so very old) and stopped to look at the TV in the brand-new commons area because students were starting to gather.

The other two are the Murrah building being bombed (that's the OKC bombing, if that isn't clear to everyone) and, of course, 9/11; I was at home in both cases and got phone calls to tell me. What I remember in the former case most is online friend checking to see if we were okay (not everyone realized that we're 60 miles from OKC) and in the latter case the online watch for NYC friends like nihilistic_kid to turn up and say that they were okay. In both cases, I knew someone at the time who missed being on the site because they didn't show up for an appointment. :P

Henrytahnan on January 29th, 2011 08:28 am (UTC)
9/11 doesn't feel like "my generation's" JFK, somehow. Not that I can't remember exactly where I was—getting out of bed, wandering into the living room where my roommate, working from home (or between jobs?) had the TV on. But it feels like it "belongs" to a generation after mine.

Not only do I not remember where I was when the Murrah building was bombed, I don't even really remember hearing about it at all. It happened while I was living in a small town, had no television, and was near the end of a year-long process of breaking up with my girlfriend who I'd been living with for the past three years. A lot of news in the early 90s kind of went past me.

(As for the Challenger: 7th grade French class.)
kitmizkit on January 29th, 2011 09:28 am (UTC)
Yeah, 9/11 feels like it belongs to the next generation to me, too. Not that it wasn't equally shocking. It just...didn't hit me in the same place, exactly, but I kind of assume it hit the next generation where the Challenger hit me.
kitmizkit on January 29th, 2011 09:34 am (UTC)
Yeah, I know one person (by association, anyway) who was late for an appointment at the WTC that morning. *shudder*
The owner of a grey catjennielf on January 29th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
Yeah. Challenger - we had a snow day in Atlanta and I was at home with a friend. I remember her mom coming down and saying that something horrible just happened.

The Murrah Federal Building - I was at home after a class and flipping channels and all I remember was seeing a Breaking News Report about an Earthquake that was felt in Oklahoma and then way fast on the heels of that was news that it was a bomb. That was a horrible day.

And of course 9/11. Lockdown with two classes of pre-k kids. Not allowed to tell them anything. That was not a fun day.

--Thank you for posting this. Today at work (Kennedy Space Center) was weird. Lots of pictures being passed around, lots of things not being said....
kitmizkit on January 29th, 2011 09:32 am (UTC)
You're welcome, I said awkwardly, because it's always weird to be thanked for posting something emotional. :)

Mghl. I bet it was very weird indeed at Kennedy. I'm not sure I could go in to work on an anniversary like that.
Wolf Lahti: antimonywolflahti on January 29th, 2011 05:54 am (UTC)

"I do not know anyone in my generation who cannot tell me where they were when the Challenger exploded."

I haven't a clue where I was, though I recall seeing it on the news that evening.

As far as the Kennedy assassination goes, I remember that the same boring thing was on all the channels, and as a result I couldn't watch my after-school cartoons (specifically, "Jerry Booth's Fun House").
kitmizkit on January 29th, 2011 09:30 am (UTC)
If you remember JFK's assassination, then I'm not surprised you don't remember the Challenger the same way. You're probably not more than about 15 years older than I am, but I wouldn't say you're in my generation in terms of the current events that shape our memories.
Henrytahnan on January 29th, 2011 08:31 am (UTC)
...you know, as an addendum to my comment above, I also remember where I was when I heard that Reagan had been shot. (Not, however, where I was when Buckwheat had been shot.) If he hadn't recovered, I wonder if that would have been "our generation;s JFK"—though I was aware enough at the time that my parents were Democrats, so I have to admit I didn't feel any great attachment to Reagan.
Janne: avatar Sadjanne on January 29th, 2011 06:28 pm (UTC)
Definitely remember that one -- it was the Tuesday gaming night at the Hexagon gaming club, and I was playing a board game called Space Traders or something like that. Somebody came down the stairs to the basement we played in and looked in and said 'the space shuttle fell down'. I thought he was making a joke about the game. Wiped the smile of my face rather quickly when I realized it was for real.
desperancedesperance on January 29th, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
I didn't see it; I was living ten years without a TV. Heard it on the radio, the way I picked up all my news: so it came as part of a regular bulletin, rather than the disorganised impact of here-and-now visuals. And still I remember exactly where I was sitting, where the radio was, like that. It was like a defeat for the future.
desperancedesperance on January 29th, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
(And I've been thinking about it all day, and it still is.)
Waterfall: Me by waterfall8484waterfall8484 on January 30th, 2011 12:24 am (UTC)
Huh, that's a very interesting idea. I suppose each generation has something like that, especially now that it's so easy to have global coverage of events. Mine is definitely 9/11.
Pegasi: confused/thoughtfulpegasi1978 on January 30th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
Like many of the others have said I was watching it in school, but since I was in second grade at the time I didn't quite grasp what had happened. I just found out this past week that my father had gone to Titusville, FL, to interview for a job at Boeing a few days beforehand.

He was working for Rockwell at the time and his plant in OK had made the shuttle bay doors for some/one of the shuttles (don't know if they did the Challenger doors or not). I remember him telling me about one time when the shuttle was in space and they couldn't get the doors to open, NASA called his plant asking what to do and they said something along the lines of: "The doors are cold. Turn the shuttle so the doors are facing the sun so they can warm up." Needless to say once the doors were warmed by the sun, they opened up.

I remember more about what happened 9/11. Some of that could be because I was working at a newspaper at the time and was in the process of building the front page while everything was going on. I had the AP feed automatically updating and would call something out if it was new. I don't remember any radio coverage, but we couldn't watch anything because there was no cable TV at our location (and the "bunny ears" my editor got at Radio Shack weren't getting much signal). After I finished building the weekly paper, I went over to the daily paper that we were associated with and helped put together the special edition that was on the street later that afternoon.