Friday, January 28, 2011

Andy Martin remembers the spirit of Christa McAuliffe and the Space Shuttle Challenger

Republican Presidential Candidate and conservative columnist Andy Martin draws on his New Hampshire roots to say that the greatest memorial we could erect to Christa McAuliffe is to rebuild our space program and renew her commitment to conquering new horizons for humanity.



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Republican Presidential Candidate Andy Martin says the spirit of Christa McAuliffe should still guide us and inspire us

(PALM BEACH, FL)(January 28, 2011) My memory of the Challenger disaster is focused on Christa McAuliffe. Like everyone, I was stunned at the suddenness of the Challenger explosion. Brave Americans had lost their lives in a voyage of discovery that ended in tragedy. Christa’s loss especially resonated for me because she was from the Granite State.

Although I was not born in New Hampshire, my mother was. My mom’s first job after graduating from the University of New Hampshire was as a teacher in Farmington. In World War II she went on to serve in OSS.

Growing up all I heard about was New Hampshire and the New Hampshire sprit. Other than my mom, my other family members were immigrants to New Hampshire, but New Hampshire took them in and made them a part of this great nation. Although under my mother’s orders not to disclose her current age, mom is still full of New Hampshire spirit. Still full of a sense of exploration and discovery.

While I never lived in New Hampshire myself, there were always family weddings and funerals, the same apartment on N. Elm Street where we stayed, visits to relatives, and every summer the magical trips to Hampton Beach. I first visited UNH in 1955. And so I absorbed some of my mom’s New Hampshire chauvinism.

When I looked up in the sky twenty-five years ago I looked beyond the tragedy. I didn’t ask why? Because I knew why. Brave men and women have always explored our world. In the past few decades they have begun to explore space. Christa was a brave woman who represented and reflected the bravery of women throughout history.

When we look back at “history” we tend to concentrate on the swords and muskets and the men who carried them. But every era of exploration has also depended on the nurturers. They were and are an essential part of the mix. Christa nurtured young minds. She was prepared to take the ultimate risk, to be a role model. And unexpectedly she paid the ultimate sacrifice. That is why she will be forever young and forever in our hearts. She was an explorer, a pioneer. She made New Hampshire proud.

Today we are a disheveled and dispirited nation. We need a strong dose of Christa’s spirit. I have no idea what Christa’s politics were, and I don’t care. She flew into space in search of our great national vision of the “shining city on a hill.”

The great dignity with which President Ronald Reagan remembered the loss of our space pioneers also lingers in our hearts. Reagan understood both the risks, and the rewards, of life. The president was also a risk taker, a pioneer, a visionary. Which is why he was able to accomplish so much in eight short years.

Where do we go from here? Naming schools and other public facilities, holding ceremonies are all traditional ways of remembering our pioneers. But in my opinion those remembrances fall far short of a fit and proper memorial to the spirit of Christa McAuliffe.

Sadly, we are dismembering our space program, mothballing our space centers and allowing our flight vehicles to rust. Space shuttles are being handed out like national antiques. Other nations stand on the cusp of surpassing us. This is not a “Sputnik moment” for our space program. It is a sad moment.

My belief? To truly honor Christa and the other brave men and women that perished with her, we must rededicate ourselves to a strong, expanded, consistent and supported space program. The current policy of shutting down and scaling back the space program dishonors the patriots and pioneers who gave their lives in the service of this great nation.

As of today I am only a fly speck in the presidential campaign process. But if I ever get to sit in the Oval Office, I promise every American, and especially the people of New Hampshire, that we will honor Christa’s memory and the memory of all of the brave astronauts that died on the Challenger, with a true memorial: we will renew and rebuild our space program, and create a highway to the stars to honor their bravery and sacrifice.

For when we someday again encounter President Reagan and Christa McAuliffe in that shining city, I want it to be said that not only did they make us proud, but that we showed them the constancy of remembering their sacrifice with our own renewed pride in a space program that once again makes all of us proud. New Hampshire proud.


© Copyright by Andy Martin 2011 All rights reserved


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