My 6th grade study hall teacher wheeled out a big TV on a cart for us to watch the launch.
The shuttle program was still pretty new and every launch had an excitement about it. I lived in New Hampshire at the time and Christa McAuliffe had become a local star through her participation in the shuttle program. People were very proud of her and excited that a local girl had been chosen as the first civilian to go into space.
We were all very shocked when it happened, the explosion. The teacher awkwardly shut the TV off, and went to check in with his boss I guess, to figure out how to talk to the kids about it. A short while later we were called down to the gym for an assembly. We were sent home for the day. School was canceled the following day as well.
Our nation has been through alot since then. The decade of the nineteen-eighties was a time of great challenges and change in America. It was unpleasant in many ways. But with all the changes and events that have happened since, the nostalgic appeal of that era is becoming more apparent.
Despite everything that divided us in America, despite Reagan, despite racism, despite the nuclear arms race, the shuttle program was one thing that united us, one thing that made us all proud.
As troubled as our nation was in 1986, it resembles an age of innocence and simplicity compared to the challenges facing us now. No news event invokes the memory of that era more than the loss of the Challenger and its crew. So they can never be forgotten.