It Was 28 Years Ago Today...

8:26 AM


"They were flying for me, they were flying for everyone.
They were trying to see a brighter day for each and every one.
They gave us their light, they gave us their spirit and all they could be,
they were flying for me, they were flying for me."


-John Denver, "Flying For Me"

Each generation has its "where were you when..." moment. For Generation X'ers, it was the Challenger Disaster.

I was a freshman in high school, sitting in Mr. Blain's 2nd period Algebra class. There was a guy sitting next to me who had one of the new Sony "Sport" Walkmans with earbuds instead of headphones. He had let me borrow it to listen to the radio while we were working on an assignment. This, of course, was against the rules, but my hair was so big, I could hide the cords of the earbuds underneath, virtually undetected.

A news report interrupted my music. The Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded during lift-off. 

I shrieked out loud "OH MY GOD," which of course captured the attention of my teacher. I then said "the Challenger just exploded!"

Mr. Blain came over, took away the Walkman, listened for a minute or two, confirming what I had said. Then he confiscated the Walkman!!! I know - the nerve!

The next period, I had Biology with Mr. Wohler. He had a TV in his classroom (this was rare back then) and so we watched the news footage from Cape Canaveral. Over and over again, they showed that fateful moment during lift-off. They showed images of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who was selected to accompany the astronauts as part of the Teacher in Space program. Over and over again, they showed the reaction of Mrs. McAuliffe's parents, who were at the Cape to see the launch in person. And I thought that it was horrible to broadcast such a personal moment live to the nation. 

I'm not sure how this "where were you when..." moment changed my generation. I don't think it was as life-changing for Generation X as the Kennedy assassination was for Baby Boomers or 9/11 was for Millenials. So I pose this question to my fellow Gen X'ers - how do you think this "where were you when..." moment changed us as a generation? Or did it?

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