I was 10.
Space was exciting, astronauts were cool.
I’m sure I had watched other shuttle launches. In memory, it seems there was always an emphasis on them at school, and they would always be on the news.
I don’t remember when, exactly, I learned of the explosion. I’m pretty sure we didn’t watch it live at school — that would have left a definite impression — but I don’t know if it was announced there or if I heard about it later, at home, on the evening news.
What I distinctly remember is my father, discussing it at the dinner table.
I think, perhaps, he was trying to ease my fear about the incident. (I was afraid of a great many things when I was young, often irrationally, and something as awful as the shuttle explosion would set me right off.)
I don’t remember a lot of the details in the conversation, but I remember one part of it very distinctly: my father, saying, “I’d go up tomorrow if they asked me.”
I imagine he’d say the same today, as would I.
We do not fear our failures; we learn, we move on, ever hopeful.