What Do You Mean, ‘Again?’ – The Columbia Shuttle Disaster

Yesterday I posted about the Challenger shuttle disaster back in 1986, so it seems only fair to take today to talk about the Columbia shuttle disaster back in 2003.  Fair is fair, right?  I mean, the Columbia disaster didn’t affect me in the same way that the Challenger one did, not being in fourth grade and watching live and all, but still.

I’m sure everybody remembers what happened with Columbia.  Back on February 1, 2003 when the shuttle was coming in for a landing damage from debris caused the shuttle to disintegrate.  Just like with Challenger, seven astronauts died.

Now, I don’t want to be irreverent about this in any way, but I’ll probably have to be.  That’s just the way things are.  Don’t think because of it that I’m in any way slighting those poor astronauts.  I’m not.  This is just how my brain has wrapped around this.

You see, what happened was I was on my way into work at the Alki Bakery and Cafe and I heard a couple of my friends talking about the space shuttle blowing up (though it is more accurate to say that it disintegrated instead of blowing up).  I wasn’t really paying that much attention because I thought they were talking about Challenger.  Although, when I thought about it, that seemed weird for them to talk about because they were much younger than me and I don’t think it had affected them the same way.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized they had to be talking about something current.  Another shuttle must have just blown up.

“What, again?”  I butted in.  “What do you mean, again?”  They asked back.  “Well, Challenger blew up back in eighty-six.”

This seemed really odd to them, the fact that I thought of this as again when it had happened seventeen years prior.  That was ancient history to them.  They didn’t think it qualified as an again.

However, I thought it did.  I still do.  I think the Challenger disaster was a big enough deal that when Columbia happened seventeen years later it counted as an again.  Something like the shuttle blowing up is a big enough deal that it can count as an again, even if its seventeen years later.  I see no reason to the contrary.

Of course, these friends of mine would have only been maybe two or three when Challenger happened.  They weren’t watching it live when they were just little kids, though still old enough to understand what they were seeing.  They weren’t marked by it.  It wasn’t something that they couldn’t forget about.  Thus, Columbia wasn’t again.

It was for me, though.  It was and still is, even if again doesn’t really mean anything that I can pin down.

So, I maintain my original remarks from back on February 1, 2003.  Admittedly, Columbia didn’t seem as horrifying to me, not as monumental.  For that and how irreverent this whole again thing seems to me regarding the seven astronauts that perished that morning in 2003, I am sorry.  The disaster was just as bad, it just didn’t hit me the same way.  Regardless though, it was still definitely an again.

About David S. Atkinson

David S. Atkinson enjoys typing about himself in the third person, although he does not generally enjoy speaking in such a fashion. However, he is concerned about the Kierkegaard quote "Once you label me you negate me." He worries that if he attempts to define himself he will, in fact, nullify his existence...
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