25 Years Ago – A Child’s Point of View on Space Shuttle Challenger

Told from a child’s point of view, this is what happened 25 years ago on the day the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up:

It is a chilly, but sunny afternoon. After gym class I head to history. I hear an annoying boy named John yelling in the courtyard.

“The space shuttle blew up!”

He points to the sky at a puffy looking cloud in the air. John is known to say and do things for attention, so I don’t believe him.

“Shut up!” I say. “That’s just a cloud.”

“No, I swear!” he says.

John isn’t lying. I arrive to history class. Our teacher, Mrs. Still, has the television on and announces that the Space Shuttle Challenger has exploded into the sky, killing all seven astronauts, including the first teacher in space. I have never seen a teacher cry until I see Mrs. Still. The entire class sits in awe as we watch the tragedy on the news for the entire fifty minutes. Mrs. Still tells us that it is an historical day in our lives, and that in the future we will always remember what we were doing on the day that the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up.

Excerpt from Unheard: a memoir
©2010 Susanna Hartigan
All Rights Reserved

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2 thoughts on “25 Years Ago – A Child’s Point of View on Space Shuttle Challenger

  1. I had the pleasure of watching the very first space shuttle launch when I was in third grade. I also just saw Discovery's last launch the other day. Like you, I also watch with a lump in my throat.

  2. Susanna, I remember watching the launch in my dorm room at Lake Erie College. The thrill and awe I felt after takeoff were replaced shortly by confusion and terror when I realized something wasn't right. I have never watched another launch since without a lump in my throat. Today my young kids and I watched Discovery's beautiful, successful last launch and they wondered why I was teary-eyed.

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