[Originally published in the Monroe News on January 6, 2023]
I want to share with you today a story of love. But in order to get to that part of the story we first need to talk about a tragedy. In just under a month’s time our nation will mark the 20th anniversary of the shuttle Columbia breaking apart upon reentry into earth’s atmosphere. Seven beloved astronauts were on their way home to their families and loved ones when the unthinkable happened. It was February 1, 2003.
For our nation it was one of those moments that you will never forget where you were when it happened. I was in the state of Indiana at the time. I was playing basketball for my seminary team and we were on our way home from a game when we heard the news. It was shocking. It was heartbreaking. I was a little too young to remember when the shuttle Challenger was lost during takeoff in 1986. But I remember hearing people talk about it. I remember watching videos of that event. Likewise, the memories of the various clips of Columbia breaking apart are now etched forever in my mind.
I remember hearing stories of the investigation and the attempts to understand what had happened. What I don’t remember is the amazing story of the search for the remnants of the shuttle and the crew. I don’t remember hearing about how thousands of individuals volunteered their time and their efforts to find the remains of this disaster to help lay the astronauts to rest and to help bring closure and understanding to this disaster.