Thursday, January 27, 2011

May their memory be eternal

January 27, 2011 marks the 44th anniversary of the fire that took the lives of Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grisson, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.

The following day, January 28th, marks the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster, which took the lives of Commander Francis R. Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialists Judith A. Resnik, Ellison S. Onizuka, Ronald E. McNair and Payload Specialists Gregory B. Jarvis and Sharon Christa McAuliffe.

Christa McAuliffe was our first teacher astronaut, selected from more than 11,000 applicants. She was a social studies teacher at Concord High School in Concord, NH, and today The Christa McAuliffe Planetarium/McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord is named in her memory.

In their honor, here is a favorite poem of mine, and of many astronauts and pilots. It was written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., a 19-year-old American who died while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, just before the United States entered WWII.

High Flight

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.,_Jr.

Image from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center:

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