When it happened, I was in Grade 8, a space-crazy kid filled to the gills with Star Trek and histories of NASA, and the deaths of seven astronauts was more than just a shock. I found out at the noon hour — I’d come home to make myself lunch and had flipped on the television for background. I was stunned, riveted — but of course, I had to go back to school, where I could think of little else.
At that time the Winnipeg Free Press was published in the afternoon, and I had a paper route after school. It was late that day; in a rare move, the paper had stopped the presses and remade the front page, which now read, in the biggest type I would see until Gorbachev was ousted in a coup, “Shuttle explodes.” Later that night, as I was collecting my paper money from my customers, I couldn’t help myself from talking about it with them — or with anyone.
It might be that for my generation — those of us who were children then, in our late twenties or early thirties now — it was our Kennedy assassination, our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11: the event that brought us to a collective halt.
(I live-blogged Columbia’s destruction three years ago.)