Today is the 25th anniversary of the loss of Space Shuttle Challenger. Most people who were alive then remember that day vividly. I was in 8th grade (incidentally, at the same school my daughter now is in 1st grade). In the middle of the day, there was a strange announcement over the PA system. It was distorted and not understandable. I guess someone held the microphone up to a TV or radio. A few moments later, someone came on the PA and announced that the Shuttle had been destroyed.

I don’t remember my immediate reaction, but when I went home, I watched with my parents the endless repeats of the the video of the external tank failing, Challenger disappearing in the fireball, and then the solid-rocket boosters corkscrewing through a clear Florida sky.

I’ll never forget what my dad said. He was an aircraft mechanic and crew chief for the US Air Force for 27 years and served in Korea and Vietnam and probably some of “his” aircraft failed to return from missions. He said (I don’t remember the exact words): “When a disaster happens, go back and check everything you did. Make sure it wasn’t your fault. If it was your fault, own up to it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Great advice Dad.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’

— President Ronald Reagan, January 28, 1986.