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Published in Print: February 5, 1986, as Leaders Pay Tribute to Shuttle Crew

Leaders Pay Tribute to Shuttle Crew

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Mary Hatwood Futrell, watching in her office as the shuttle took off, “just sat here and cried,” after realizing that the Challenger had exploded 74 seconds into its voyage.

“Do I feel down? No. Do I feel sad? Yes,” Ms. Futrell said. “But I don’t think Christa’s personality would allow you to stay down … I think of her as a very positive, very outgoing kind of person.”

Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called Ms. McAuliffe a “symbol of hope and optimism for teachers and students around the nation. She represented her two million colleagues with great distinction, and as fellow teachers, we were enormously proud of her.”

The House and Senate unanimously adopted a resolution expressing “sorrow and regret” over the fate of the Challenger mission.

Senator John Glenn of Ohio said, “Occasionally, our judgments, the things we do are not perfect. Sometimes, triumph is accompanied by tragedy. We hoped to push this day back forever, but that was not meant to be. So the tragedy is not for our space program, but for all Americans who share a sense of loss.”

Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, as Mr. Reagan had, addressed the nation’s schoolchildren. “This is a very sad day for all of us. You should be proud of Christa McAuliffe, one of your teachers, and of the other brave Americans who were willing to take a great risk for the good of our country,” he said.

The National Science Teachers Association, which coordinates student activities associated with the shuttle program for NASA, is encouraging teachers to use the lessons prepared by Ms. McAuliffe “without the benefit of space assistance,” said Bill G. Aldridge, executive director of the N.S.T.A.

The Council of Chief State School Officers, which helped select the first teachernaut, expressed “shock and grief.” The group, which had urged students to leave porch lights on to celebrate Ms. McAuliffe’s classes from space, now asks “everyone” to turn on a light in conjunction with any national commemoration.

Vol. 5, Issue 21, Page 1

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