I remember this date in 1986 very well. It was another day of first grade for me. The principal came over the intercom of Wheeler Elementary and asked that every teacher turn the classroom televisions on, so that we may watch the shuttle launch. A few minutes later, she came back over the intercom and instructed that the televisions should be turned off.
Mrs. Bryant sat at her desk and wept. None of the kids did, but we all gathered around and hugged her. It was our first national tragedy. I had no doubt that every single living thing on that shuttle died, and felt it deeply. I never felt sad for anyone I had never met before, and I knew I wasn’t alone.