Jul 14, 2011

The End Of An Era - The Last Shuttle Launch

I will never forget the 12th of April 1981, I was a senior in high school that year. Across the nation in classrooms the televisions were on for the students to watch this historic event of the first shuttle launch. Growing up and going to school in Texas not far down the road from NASA made it all the more amazing that day and gave many us a special sense of pride.  It was on that day that we all felt that anything was possible and it was.

It was an event and a time that would forever affect my life in ways that I will never be able to explain to those who did not experience themselves.  The pride that we felt as a people and the optimism we had for the future.

Something happened and I'm not sure what it was but along the way the exhilaration and pride that we all felt that day slowly faded.  The shuttle launches lost their significance and our desire to explore our universe took a backseat to the  more pressing social issues of the day.  The space shuttle became a tool, not to explore the unknown but to provide for social justice.  Rather than scientific, the accomplishments would become social, and a divisive plethora of "firsts" would follow with each shuttle launch dividing us by ethnicity and gender.  No longer was it the human race reaching out for the stars, but the first woman, the first black and the first (insert ethnicity).  It was at that time that many of us came to the bitter realization that our journey had come to an end.

Like many I found myself overwhelmed with emotion and nostalgia when I saw Chris Bray and his father's photostream on Flickr.  I'm overcome with emotion because I know exactly what Chris Bray and his father Kenneth were feeling that day.

Last week my high school class celebrated our 30th class reunion.  Sadly I was in Singapore and missed it, but I'll be sharing this with them and with all of you wherever you are.

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