This is the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. I was in 7th grade that year and home sick coincidentally watching the launch. Because at that time Shuttle launches were still pretty cool, and it was to be the first crew with a civilian teacher aboard. Also, I was a huge fan of the space program. My walls were adorned with posters of astronauts and mission patches from the the Mercury program. Visiting Kennedy Space Center as a child was a highlight of my life.
Like most people watching, I did not know what I was witnessing on TV when the Challenger exploded. And then I learned that it and her crew were gone I did not know how to react. I reckon it was one of the earliest moments in my life when I realized that life can be dangerous, and the world does not save heroes.
This speech from President Reagan is what I believe to be his finest hour. When he said the Challenger astronauts "broke the surly bonds of Earth" to "touch the face of God" it was the first time I heard true, meaningful poetry.