The Challenger Exploded

I was teaching class at Shell when the training secretary, Linda Zapalac, motioned for me. "Just a minute; " I said "we're just getting to break for lunch."

"I have something you might want to announce to the class."

I laughed and turned to the class "Late breaking news flash. I'll be right back. I followed her into the hallway and asked "What's up?"

She had a serious look on her face. "We just saw this on the national news." Maybe you'll remember that this was during the time that Khadafy had drawn his famous "line in the sand" and threatened Reagan not to cross it and bomb Libya. I was ready for her to tell me we were at war with Libya."The shuttle exploded."

I went back to the room. Maybe the class saw something on my face, because the buzz from the discussions stopped abruptly. The silence made my message even harder to deliver. I don't remember my words; I only remember gasps and Ann Seits whispering "Oh, my God."

Within 12 hours, I imagined that every American had heard the news. I spent the night watching the film over and over again -- not because of a morbid curiousity -- but to see if, maybe this time, the ending would change. Nonchalant expectation of success had been transformed into a common unifying event for our nation.

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