Challenger anniversary show’s country’s decline

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 29, 2011

There are certain events that happen in one’s lifetime that become indelibly etched into one’s memory. The one that first springs to mind for most who were alive at the time is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Another one of these moments commemorated its 25th anniversary yesterday. On Jan. 28, 1986, just seconds into its mission, the space shuttle Challenger exploded. On board the craft was the first civilian to be included in a space shuttle mission, teacher Christa McAuliffe.

This tragedy was one of the first to play out on live television, and although there were not yet any 24-hour news networks, footage from the catastrophe haunted the airwaves for weeks.

Since that time, the news cycle has ensured that every disaster is covered ad nauseum, and perhaps as a result of this people have become desensitized to the horror and immediately begin playing the blame game when disaster strikes. It happened during Hurricane Katrina. More recently, it happened after the shootings in Arizona. It even happened to a certain extent following 9-11.

After the Challenger tragedy, there were no political pundits blaming liberals or conservatives, only a general sense that the nation would pull itself together and overcome.

In the past quarter of a century, the nation has devolved into one too busy with infighting to press forward, one seemingly resigned to a lesser role than it enjoyed in years past.

Disaster is not a time to throw one’s hands in the air in resignation; it is a time to forget personal and political differences for the good of the country and the world.