30 Years After the Challenger
I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and exploring man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.
President Ronald Reagan
January 28, 1986 is a date branded into the memory of most Americans over the age of thirty. In a horrifying spiral of events, the shuttle meant to highlight NASA’s finest hour incinerated within 73 seconds, the tragic explosion resulting in the fatalities of all seven Challenger crew members. On that fateful day, then-President Ronald Reagan was slated to deliver his State of the Union address. Instead, he chose to honor and remember the lives lost in the Shuttle Challenger disaster. He shared a heartfelt message to a shocked and mournful nation, uniting the American people in a common grief. In a poignant speech lauded as one of the best presidential speeches ever given, Reagan commended the bravery of the crew, the pioneering work of NASA, and he reminded us that this life is but a journey to an eternal future with God. Citing a beautiful poem by John Gallespie Magee, an American airman who died in an in-flight collision at age 19 while serving in World War 2, Reagan’s words still sound with unforgettable resonance:
“The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.'”
Reagan’s speech, shared three decades ago, is still relevant, and still reminiscent for many. And for a new generation, his words are both inspiring and challenging.
Click here to watch original footage of President Reagan delivering the Challenger Shuttle disaster speech.