February 1, 2003

Other Thoughts

Some of the things I've read over the last few hours. I'll save the things that have infuriated me for another time. Right now, I don't want to let the bastards impose themselves on this tragedy.


From President Bush: These men and women assumed great risk in this service to all humanity. In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere of the earth.

These astronauts knew the dangers, and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the more.

All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families of these men and women who have been given this sudden shock and grief. You're not alone. Our entire nation grieves with you. And those you loved will always have the respect and gratitude of this country.

The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.

In the skies today, we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet farther than we can see, there is comfort and hope.

In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."

The same creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth, yet we can pray that all are safely home.

May God bless the grieving families, and may God continue to bless America.


Rod Dreher on "A Childs Dream Of Space" : I was deeply moved to learn this morning that Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut killed on the Columbia this morning, had taken into space with him a drawing made by a child in a Nazi concentration camp. It was the child's conception of what Earth looks like from the moon. That drawing survived the Holocaust and its aftermath, and was kept in Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust memorial site. Now it has perished, along with Ramon and six others, on its way back from space.

Think about that drawing: that Jewish child lived in a death camp, yet he was still able to dream of space, and these dreams no doubt brought that child some small measure of comfort in a world overwhelmed by tragedy, suffering and loss.

Peggy Noonan: "These are the days of miracle and wonder," sang Paul Simon in the 1980s. It ran through my head all morning, from out of nowhere, and I think I know why. It has to do with the impossibility, the sheer implausibility, of the facts. We are on the verge of war in the Mideast, a war springing in its modern origins from the tensions of the Arab-Israeli conflict; our president, a Texan, believes we must move on Iraq. The space shuttle that broke up today carried, for the first time ever, a Mideastern astronaut, an Israeli who won fame when he led a daring raid on a nuclear reactor in Iraq, 20 years ago. The shuttle broke up over the president's home state, Texas. The center of the debris field appears to be a little town called Palestine.

If Tom Clancy wrote this in one of his novels--heck, if Tim LaHaye wrote this in one of his Left Behind books--his editor would call him and say, "We're thinking this may be too over the top."


Today the tragedy feels less like something that teaches than something that reminds. We were reminded of what we know. President Bush referred to it when he lauded the astronauts' courage. We forget to notice the everyday courage of astronauts. We forget to think about all the Americans doing big and dangerous things in the world--members of the armed forces, cops and firemen, doctors in public hospitals in hard places. And now, famously again, astronauts. With their unremarked-upon valor and cool professionalism. With their desire to make progress and push on.

Buzz Aldrin captured it this morning. He tried to read a poem about astronauts on television. He read these words: "As they passed from us to glory, riding fire in the sky." And tough old Buzz, steely-eyed rocket man and veteran of the moon, began to weep.

He was not alone.

God bless and bless and bless their souls, and rest their souls in the morning.


'Touch the Face of God': The Challenger speech.

Posted by Ithildin at February 1, 2003 12:59 PM | PROCURE FINE OLD WORLD ABSINTHE

Okay...it's August...and I had put Columbia away for 'sad things to mourn later' I'm up way too early, and your posts brought tears to my eyes.

I'm hoping to start a blog soon, I'd like to link to this one.

Posted by: Winterhart at August 5, 2003 3:41 AM

We still miss them. They would have enjoyed seeing the wonderful images from Mars. Thanks.

Posted by: May God continue to bless America at January 24, 2004 4:38 PM