I was teaching at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond and, on this day in 1986, I had gone in to the school to leave assignments for my students. I was on my way back home that day because of an extremely bad sinus infection. After I got back to the rectory, I laid down on the couch to rest.
I decided to turn the television on to watch the launch of the Challenger. The space shuttles had always amazed me and I was rooting for the first teacher in space. It was to my utter horror that I saw the explosion televised live. I froze for a while.
In times like that, our minds do strange things to us. I remember mine opening like a file cabinet sorting through index cards. I tucked the index card of the explosion in the same drawer as other things that I had seen in my life. The worst one was the assassination of President Kennedy. I was much younger then; but, I remember that vividly as well.
My file cabinet of horrors and atrocities is quite cluttered now as I am older. Assassinations, hurricanes, volcanic devastations, two space shuttles, the Twin Towers, and more remind me that things do not always go as planned and that nature has a role to play in our lives.
As we continue Catholic Schools Week, this morning, at Mass, we honored all our emergency services personnel as well as all those in the military. Thank you, heroes, who are there for us in the devastating moments of our lives. Bless you, heroes who did not survive, for your ultimate sacrifices.