Twenty-five years have passed and I still don't have the answer. At the time I think I stammered a bit, fighting my own tears, and said something about God's plan and Christa's bravery. I honestly don't remember what I said anymore, and I'm not sure if it brought any comfort to my students. I do know that nothing brought any comfort to me: not that day or a long time afterwards.
I remember staring at the cold winter sky that night so long ago, staring up at the constellation Orion so bold and bright in the dark night sky. I thought how I had submitted that application and wanted to really go, but so did so many others. Christa went for all of us, all the teachers who worked so hard everyday, who loved their jobs and their students as much as anything in life. That kind of dedication and spirit sent Christa McAuliffe up in that Space Shuttle, and not even the explosion that took her life could destroy the power of the example she set for teachers and students in America and all over the world.
So tonight I looked up at the sky again, but I couldn't see Orion or anything else because there was a cloudy sky, ready to drop more snow on us. Still, I could see the trail that she blazed that day, and though she's gone her memory remains and her name will forever linger in the firmament, inspiring us now and forevermore with her bold desire to reach for the stars.
Photo Credit: www.space-video.info