....when the Challenger disaster occurred?
I think this was my first "Where Were You" moment. And until 9/11, this was the defining "Where Were You" moment for my age group.
I was in college, halfway through my junior year. Being a student without a television and with limited interest in or access to newspapers, I had very little grasp on current events at that time. However, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend daily Mass. My friends and I made up the choir on that weekday, and I nearly dropped my guitar when Father Pace announced that we would be praying for the astronauts who had just perished aboard the space shuttle.
After Mass we all rushed to the student center where we could see a TV. People were crowded around televisions that normally only attracted a few diehard soap-operaholics. Nobody was talking. We all just stared. We couldn't believe that such a thing could happen. The plume of smoke was shown, again and again.
On August 10, 2001, my family was fortunate enough to be present at Kennedy Space Center for the launching of Discovery (STS 105). What an amazing sight--and what a great relief when we learned that the shuttle had safely been launched into space.
May God grant eternal rest to those astronauts lost on the Challenger and on the Columbia, comfort to the families and friends who still grieve for them, and safety to all who are involved in space travel.