Day of Remembrance

Today at NASA was a day of thoughtfulness and reflection.  Each year, NASA holds a “Day of Remembrance” to remember and honor those who gave their lives to advance our knowledge of the unknown.  The cold and cloudy morning began at Arlington Cemetery, where three wreaths were laid at the memorials for each of the NASA memorials there–one for the Challenger crew, a second for the Columbia crew, and third at the gravesites of Apollo 1 crewmembers Gus Grissom and  Roger Chaffee.

Arlington Cemetery is a humbling place, with winding roads that take you over hills and around bends, between fields of markers, each one marking a sacrifice for all of us.  While it has been a long time since the Apollo 1 accident (Jan. 27, 1967), 26 years for Challenger (Jan 28, 1986), and 9 years for Columbia (Feb. 1, 2003), each marked a turning point in American history and in the lives of all at NASA.  Today, as I am each day at NASA, I was struck with the sincerity and care all of the employees have for their jobs.  So many of the people take the lives of each astronaut into their care, and truly believe in NASA’s mission of bringing all that space exploration is to everyone.  Talk is often of inspiration, the unity found when you leave the bounds of earth, and the importance of what we are learning as a people.  The ultimate price each astronaut paid is not taken lightly.

This afternoon the day ended with a showing of the documentary “An Article of Hope, ” a truly amazing film and an amazing story.

I wish there was a way to include the entire documentary here, but hopefully it will reach a wide audience as more want to share the story of Ilan Ramon, the Isreali astronaut who was a part of the American Columbia crew.  The hope is that it will air on PBS next year for the 10th anniversary of the Columbia accident.  In short, Ilan took a tiny Torah with him that belonged to a dear friend of his–a friend who survived the Nazi concentration camps and smuggled the scroll out with him, promising to share the story with the world.  Ilan wanted to take the scroll above the boundaries of earth, past the pain of its history, and into the peaceful realm of space.  With this, he succeeded.

I also had the chance to  briefly meet Sean O’Keefe, who was NASA’s Administrator at the time of the Challenger accident.  If you are unfamiliar with his own history, he and his son survived a plane crash in Alaska that killed one of his friends, Senator Ted Stevens, in August of 2010.  In addition, I was able to talk with June Scobee-Rogers, the wife of Challenger commander Dick Scobee (who I met years ago at the Challenger Learning Center in Colorado Springs).  She is truly an amazing woman, a strong lady who helped establish the learning centers in honor of the crew.

Wow, what a day.  I finish this humble blog post with a commemoration NASA made for the crews, one that shows each astronaut and their passion.



~ by alanotte on January 26, 2012.

2 Responses to “Day of Remembrance”

  1. I am so proud of you to have been there for this day, and for so many reasons.

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