[Editor’s notes: David sent this piece to NASA and was proud to learn that it was read to the families of the fallen astronauts. The Space Shuttle Columbia burned “during re-entry near the end of its 28th mission, STS-107 on February 1, 2003, resulting in the deaths of all seven crew members.” – Wikipedia]
As we know, today seven astronauts burned to death as the Space Shuttle Columbia burst into a ball of fire, horrifying onlookers, and spreading large pieces of molten debris across thousands of square miles.
Interviewing the astronauts prior to their flight to doom, one saw their beaming expressions, their incredible, almost childlike joy and optimism, and their firm resolve to risk their very lives for their dream of sending mankind into space. They knew. They knew.
And still they went.
How many of us, here on earth, leading our various lives, have a dream? How many of us would be willing to risk everything—even our lives—for that dream? How many of our dreams include all humanity in their embrace?
These men and women who died today were heroes of the spirit. As such, they can be models for all of us. Their fiery path across the heavens does not have to end with their deaths. Their path across our hearts and minds can continue…with and within each one of us.
In their honor, perhaps each one of us can do one true, bold action that springs fearlessly from our personal integrity, in the service of others. Then, their bold journey will continue, along paths unknown and to destinations unimagined. All journeys near and far, within and without, require the courage of the astronaut. And so, again, in their honor: who of us will “boldly go where none has gone before”?