February 1, 2003
My fellow Americans, this
day has brought terrible news and great sadness to our
country. At 9:00 a.m. this morning, Mission Control in
Houston lost contact with our Space Shuttle Columbia. A
short time later, debris was seen falling from the skies
above Texas. The Columbia is lost; there are no survivors.
On board was a crew of seven: Colonel Rick Husband; Lt.
Colonel Michael Anderson; Commander Laurel Clark; Captain
David Brown; Commander William McCool; Dr. Kalpana Chawla;
and Ilan Ramon, a Colonel in the Israeli Air Force. These
men and women assumed great risk in the service to all
In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine,
it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket,
and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere
of the Earth. These astronauts knew the dangers, and they
faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble
purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring and
idealism, we will miss them all the more.
All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families
of these men and women who have been given this sudden
shock and grief. You're not alone. Our entire nation grieves
with you. And those you loved will always have the respect
and gratitude of this country.
The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is
led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration
of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey
into space will go on.
In the skies today we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet
farther than we can see there is comfort and hope. In the
words of the prophet Isaiah, "Lift your eyes and look
to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out
the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name.
Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one
of them is missing."
The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names
of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle
Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray
that all are safely home.
May God bless the grieving families, and may God continue
to bless America.
Also see: Responses
to Remarks on Columbia Disaster
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