There are two events linked together in my mind and heart.
January 21, 1986: the death of my father. And, a week later, the explosion of the Challenger.
I wasn't a member of the generation which had this event as their "defining moment" but I can still remember exactly where I was. I was in an office in Fayetteville, Arkansas, that Tuesday, just having returned from burying my father out on Long Island. I was at work, when one of my co workers announced he had just spoken to one of our customers, and he relayed the news to us.
It was the first time I had felt anything in a week. Simply, I had been numb since getting that phone call that my father had passed away in a Brooklyn emergency room. This was the first thing I felt since that phone call.
The space program had meant so much to me growing up. I became a big fan of science fiction - for some years, in fact, it was all I read. So the shock penetrated through the numbness. Now I was really surrounded by death.
It is so hard to imagine that 25 years have passed since that day, and here we are, with the manned space program soon to end. 25 years later, and an astronaut by the name of Mark Kelly ponders whether he will fly in that last mission, because his wife lies in a rehab center, survivor of an attempted assassination.
Two 25 year commemorations in a week. And to think I was a teenager when we had the 25th anniversary of the end of World War II. Time flies when you are having fun (or not).