A Day of Remembrance
Today January 26, 2012 we remember those brave men and women who have died serving their country. I’m not referring to those who’ve died fighting overseas, although a few of these people have served in the Armed Forces. These men and women have courage similar to those of soldiers but yet courage that a soldier knows nothing about…the unknown. Today is NASA’s Day of Remembrance set aside to honor the brave men and women who have died in the service of space exploration. Forty-five years ago tomorrow astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee perished in a pre-launch test before the Apollo 1 mission caused by a fire in the command module. Twenty-six years ago we lost the Space Shuttle Challenger and all seven of its astronauts when it exploded during throttle-up shortly after launch. Next Wednesday marks the ninth anniversary of the Columbia disaster when the Shuttle burned up and disintegrated during re-entry over Texas killing the astronauts on board.
These brave citizens dedicated their lives to the exploration of space and the advancement of human knowledge, of our planet and the universe. They are champions of the human spirit in their fearless commitment to stare into the face of uncertainty and proceed forward for the goal of human progress. Tom Wolfe wrote about the first astronauts and their character in his book The Right Stuff. He said:
But it was not bravery in the simple sense of being willing to risk your life. The idea seemed to be that any fool could do that…No, the idea here…seemed to be that a man should have the ability to go up in a hurtling piece of machinery and put his hide on the line and then have the moxie, the reflexes, the experience, the coolness, to pull it back in the last yawning moment and then to go up again the next day, and the next day, and every next day…there was something ancient, primordial, irresistible about the challenge of this stuff.
Those were the qualities Wolfe dubbed “the right stuff”. Although Wolfe was referring to the original Mercury Seven astronauts, those traits are still very much the backbone and the spirit of the astronaut corps to this day.
Although their lives were cut short they were monumental in their contribution to the ever growing collection of knowledge of the universe. Their value can never be understated. Because of them our universe makes more sense, we continue to push the envelope, and our space vehicles are safer than they’ve ever been. Not a single life in space was lost in vain. As Gus Grissom himself once said, “The conquest of space is worth the risk of life”. Our brave astronauts will always be remembered for their spirit and courage. They embodied the spirit that is truly American, to do something bold and uncharted for the betterment of their countrymen. We can only pray that the next generation of astronauts and civilians alike reflect the character and bravery of our fallen heroes.
Apollo 1: Gus Grissom Ed White Roger Chaffee
Challenger: Greg Jarvis Christa McAuliffe Ronald McNair Ellison Onizuka Judith Resnik Michael Smith Dick Scobee
Columbia: Rick Husband William McCool Michael Anderson Ilan Ramon Kalpana Chawla David Brown Laurel Clark
Posted on January 26, 2012, in NASA and tagged Apollo 1, Day of Remembrance, Ed White, Gus Grissom, NASA, Roger B. Chaffee, Space Shuttle Challenger, Space Shuttle Columbia, Tom Wolfe. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.