Where Were You?




Ask anyone over 30 where they were when the Challenger exploded and you'll get an answer. Ask New Hampshire Magazine's, Mary Jo Drewn, Concord High class of '86, and get a front row view of that historic event.

"I had Christa for a class called 'History of American Women.' It was the only history class I ever liked. I remember the day she told that class, 'I know you'll think I'm silly, but I just filled out this application to be the first teacher in space.'

"When she was traveling between home and training in Texas, she told us she would come and speak at our graduation. We gave her a little Class of '86 flag that she took on the shuttle with her.

"I was in the auditorium at Concord High, surrounded by classmates and we were thrilled it was finally going to go up. People had noisemakers, there was cheering, it was a big party.

"We really didn't realize anything was wrong at first. We thought smoke and all that stuff was supposed to happen. It was when the people on TV stopped talking we realized. The principal got on the loudspeaker and said there's been an accident. The room went from total chaos to absolute quiet.

"Afterward I got a call from a CBS-TV producer, and a few classmates and I were on the morning news with Maria Shriver and Charles Osgood. I didn't realize then the impact it had on my world, but that sparked my interest in media.

"We were kids in our own little worlds. I get more emotional thinking about it today than I did when it happened. I'm older now than she was then. I realize how tough she was, physically and mentally. She had little kids. Knowing how it affected her family, I didn't appreciate that as a 17 year old.

"For a long time afterward, I really thought they would find them alive. In my 17-year-old mind I believed that."

What do you remember? Feel free to share your memories of the day Challenger exploded, of Christa or the days following the tragedy in the "Where Were You?" comments section on the main Challenger page.

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