An Eight Year Old's Memory of The Challenger

An Eight Year Old's Memory of The Challenger

Twenty-five years ago today I was eight years old and home from school sick.  For some reason my mom and I had to go to a locally owned convenient store called Garritys, I presume to pick up orange juice and chicken soup for my cold. 

I remember my mom and I listening to the radio in the car as The Challenger was preparing for take off and anxiously awaiting the count down.  It was exciting.  In the weeks prior at school we had learned about the teacher Christa McAuliffe going into space.  I’m sure I was disappointed I had to miss school that day after all the build up.

As we shopped at Garritys, I recall some woman frantically barging into the door screaming, “The Challenger exploded” and mass chaos followed.  The look on the adults’ faces told me this was big and this was bad.  Twenty-five years later I can still bring myself back to that moment.


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Ironically today my kids are home sick and my sister is a teacher, who I know would jump at an opportunity to explore as Christa did. As I look back I feel chills reminiscing that moment of hope, exhilaration and extreme sadness and pledge to hug my family tighter and enjoy this moment. 


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  • I was in 2nd grade in St Ed's elementary school and my mom was the person who called the school to tell everyone, and it was announced over the intercom. When we got home from school that day we were glued to the TV, watching that burst of smoke materialise over and over and over again... It's one of a handful of "TV moments" (well, real life moments that we experienced via TV) that will define our generation. The Challenger, the 1st day of the Gulf War, the OJ Simpson chase/trial, 9-11 (which I'll always remember watching with you, James, Jeff and Jill in CF&A)....

  • Great recall of your feelings about this day.
    I was a mere 4yo so I don't remember the day but have read up on the explosion and the people who died that day and the whole thing was an absolute disaster to NASA and every single person in the US.
    Thanks for this recount. Well written.

  • There are some days in our life that we remember forever...where we were, and how we felt at the time. Think how our life may have been different...if the first teacher actually would have gone into space. Would both the space program and education have remained front and center?

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