Remembering the Challenger Seven

The essay also appears in The Federalist.


It is 63 degrees in Houston in January, and we head to Challenger Seven Memorial Park for my son’s orienteering event, part of his seventh grade leadership development course. We are in Webster, not far from NASA. The sun is bright, and you can still see last night’s pale moon hanging in the blue sky. There are no clouds, but you can see the wind blowing things around, and I can feel Christopher’s excitement. It is a little competition: You are supposed to explore unfamiliar terrain with only a map. You are supposed to move fast, competing with the clock. It is a race against time.

I leave him with his group of boys and Captain Troutt, and I start walking around. I pass the trees with the moss hanging down, making my way to where the canoes can glide down Clear Creek. Then I start running, leaving the pavement and hitting the trails. I pass the birders, with their khaki pocketed vests, their binoculars, and their infinite and magnificent patience. There are so many birds singing, I cannot believe it. I think of John Keats knowing he is going to die, writing about the nightingale singing “in full-throated ease.” Those birds have to glide, must sing, no matter what. I feel lucky: I see a red cardinal, and it is only January. Continue reading