The Challenger 7’s Special Spirit: “Give Me A Challenge And I’ll Meet It With Joy”

The Challenger 7’s Special Spirit: “Give Me A Challenge And I’ll Meet It With Joy”

The Challenger 7’s Special Spirit: “Give Me A Challenge And I’ll Meet It With Joy”

Flight and space, that fascinating ‘final frontier.’ The vast unchartered territory where we can go up into the sky and beyond, and then wonder what is behind that star over there. 33 years ago, as senior in high school, I was one of many students across the country sitting in front of a tv waiting to see the Challenger crew launch into space to discover for themselves what is beyond the horizon.

As we know, they did go beyond the horizon and into God’s hands; just not in the way any of us nor their families or the NASA team considered nor wanted.

Lt. General Richard “Rich” Scobee watched his father die that morning.

“If you have ever lost somebody that you lived, it’s that exact feeling,” Scobee told CNN this month, as the anniversary approached. “I just shared my loss with the country. I think it’s my responsibility to share some of that – because it’s part of our history.”

The students and staff at Christa McAuliffe’s school were devastated. Yet one teacher’s simple prayer gave the staff the strength to go on.

At the conclusion of the briefing, with many on staff still dazed and overwhelmed by what they had all just witnessed, an arm went up in the crowd. It was the hand of Nick Houston, a building and trade teacher.

“I know everybody processes grief differently,” he said. “But the only way I know how to do it is to pray. So, this is only voluntary, but I would like us to pray for the families and for everyone who is hurting.”

Every head bowed and a hush fell over the assembled as Nick proceeded to pray a simple but sincere word of petition. It was a sacred moment, a unifying action that pulled everyone together in their grief and sent them out into the cold New Hampshire afternoon with a spirit of quiet hope after a miserable and tragic morning.

A nation in shock and devastated families and the entire NASA program reeling. How do we recover? What is next? There were very few answers through the rest of that day, only sadness and mourning.

Yet President Reagan gave us all a reminder that resonated then and resonates now.

He reminded us that the Challenger 7 crew wished to serve.

He reminded us that even 25 years into the space program, the Challenger crew were pioneers.

On that day, 33 years ago, the members of the Challenger crew,

Gregory Jarvis

Ronald McNair

Ellison Onizuka

Judith Resnik

Mike Smith

Dick Scobee

Christa McAuliffe

“slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.”

As President Reagan noted in his address to the country, the Challenger 7 crew had a hunger for embarking on exciting journey’s of space discovery.

The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them. [Emphasis added]

None of us know what the future holds even though we sometimes wish for that crystal ball. However, the example that the Challenger 7 crew set for us is one that is timely. The future does belong to the brave, the steadfast, and the adventurer.

In remembering the crew of the Challenger Space Shuttle, let us remember and strive to meet our challenges with joy.

Feature Photo Credit: Charles Schmidt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, cropped and modified

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