This breaks my heart. I started crying when I heard Bush's speech in the car -- that was my first news of it.
I was in Geometry class in high school when we lost Challenger. A defining moment for my generation.
I told my husband in the car that this hurts so much because even 9/11 . . . news of wars, news of deaths on Earth . . . they, too, are devastating, of course, but not quite in the same way.
For me, loss of the shuttle is excruciatingly painful, because it is a symbolic death, a blow struck to our hope. When we fly into space, we leave all that is below, all that is beneath us, all the wars and death on Earth behind for a little while, symbolically. We go forward: we explore. We advance. It is a triumph of the human spirit, of pushing the envelope, of pioneering.
I really grieve over this.
Preserved below for posterity.
My fellow Americans, this day has brought terrible news and great sadness to our country. At 9 o'clock this morning, Mission Control in Houston lost contact with our space shuttle Columbia. A short time later, debris was seen falling from the skies above Texas.
The Columbia's lost. There are no survivors.
Onboard was a crew of seven -- Colonel Rick Husband, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Anderson, Commander Laurel Clark, Captain David Brown, Commander William McCool, Dr. Kalpana Chawla, and Ilan Ramon a colonel in the Israeli air force.
These men and women assumed great risk in this service to all humanity. In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere of the earth.
These astronauts knew the dangers, and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the more.
All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families of these men and women who have been given this sudden shock and grief. You're not alone. Our entire nation grieves with you. And those you loved will always have the respect and gratitude of this country.
The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.
In the skies today, we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet farther than we can see, there is comfort and hope.
In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."
The same creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth, yet we can pray that all are safely home.
May God bless the grieving families, and may God continue to bless America.