25 years ago a President’s State of the Union Address became a eulogy for seven astronauts

28 January 2011

“…I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them…”

~President Ronald Reagan

At 11:38 am on the fridgid morning of 28 January 1986 the shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off.

The five year old cable news network, CNN, was the only television channel to have live coverage of the launch and subsequent explosion. That video cannot be embedded but can be viewed here.

That evening President Ronald Reagan was scheduled to deliver his State of the Union Address. Instead, he briefly addressed a stunned nation from the Oval Office.

Michelle Malkin has published the transcript here. It’s worth reading. She has also published the poem High Flight, written by a young American pilot who volunteered in aid of Great Britain during WWII, from which Reagan drew the closing line of his message.

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