January 29, 2021

Day of Remembrance 2021

Tears… lots of them…. Then and now.

There are days in our lives that we will never forget.  Days that have in ways shaped the history we know… to be honest we’ve been living in those sort of days for the past 11 months. What I mean by this is 20, 35, 50 years from now people will be talking about where they were when current events (pandemic happened.)

I can tell you I remember exactly where I was when Challenger happened… 35 years ago today, January 28.  I won’t go into all the details here in writing  but if you get a chance, check out the TedX talk where I recount that day from my perspective. https://bit.ly/MichelleTedXTalk

Do you remember where you were? What you felt? In some ways it’s hard to believe it’s been 35 years ago…

I can also tell you exactly where I was when Columbia happened in 2003… Russia. More about that on that day.

I wasn’t around yet on January 27, 1967 when the Apollo 1 fire happened but I do know the story well.

All of these tragedies took the lives of great humans who made it their life mission to further the exploration of humans in space.  I think it’s so important for us to have a day like to day to be sure to pause…. Think…. Remember….


We need to remember not just the tragedies but the humans…..

The Apollo 1 crew

  • Gus Grissom
  • Roger Chaffee
  • Ed White
Photo Credit NASA

I’ll tell you what, in the history of Astronauts I wish I had the opportunity to meet, Gus is in the top 5 of that list.  His simple yet poignant quote, “Do good work” has resonated with me every day that I have worked in the space industry… especially when I was working in human spaceflight.

The Challenger Crew

  • Dick Scobee
  • Michael Smith
  • Ronald McNair
  • Ellison Onizuka
  • Judith Resnick
  • Gregory Jarvis
  • Christa McAullife
Photo Credit NASA

This mission was one that touched the lives of students across the world because it was to be the first Teacher in Space.  School kids imagined what it would be like if their own teacher could fly into space and teach them lessons from there. What an inspirational concept. It was a much different lesson that students learned from this mission.

The Crew of STS-107, Columbia

  • Rick Husband
  • Willie McCool
  • Mike Anderson
  • Kalpana Chawla
  • Dave Brown
  • Laurel Clark
  • Ilan Ramon
Photo Credit NASA

The crew was so close to home…

At Kennedy Space Center, they have an exhibit dedicated to Challenger and Columbia that gives personal insights into each of the trailblazing humans who were part of this mission. I love that they help us to honor and remember these heroes by sharing other parts of their life with us.

https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/explore-attractions/shuttle-a-ship-like-no-other/forever-remembered

Today many Day of Remembrance ceremonies were held and I was so grateful that they were live streamed so even though most people couldn’t be there in person we could participate. I bounced between the Johnson Space Center and Kennedy Space Center ceremonies and have gone back and watched the parts I missed of  Kennedy Space Center’s on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy. Others were held as well at various NASA Centers that you may be able to find online.

It was pointed out today that a significant portion of today’s space workforce was not alive or was too young to remember or wasn’t involved when these tragedies happened. It is so important that we continue to talk about these great heroes to remember who they were as incredible humans… but also to not make the same mistakes we’ve made in the past. We must understand our history as we explore the future of spaceflight. We must never forget.

Every time I am at Kennedy Space Center, I always take time to visit the Astronaut Memorial that is there.  I give thanks to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of space travel.

Every day I hope to do them all justice for their sacrifice as I work to inspire students to follow in their footsteps to dare boldy and explore.

I stand on the shoulders of giants and I will forever remember…

— Michelle

Photo Credit Tim Gagnon

Blog by Michelle


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