Saints and Heroes
Folding the US Flag

They wanted to fly, to soar into the heavens,
To see Earth from afar, Those immortal Seven...
They each happily saw their hopes come true...
While nervous and eager, into that starry night they flew...
 For sixteen days they lived their dream
They were awed and delighted,
The Columbia team...

It was seen on each face,
their obvious glee!
Just imagine the wonders that they did see!
I pray that each soul was still basking in glory,
And thinking of how they'd relate the story

To their husbands and wives, children and friends,
And were never aware of their untimely end.
They flew into the heavens;
In the heavens they'll stay...
We will not soon forget them, nor this black day.

May God comfort their families and help ease their grief...
They flew into the heavens,
And in Heaven they'll sleep...
Poem © Deborah Guerrero

Rick Husband had just one other space flight under his belt before he was given the role of commander. "I think a lot of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time, for starters," Husband, a 45-year-old Air Force colonel from Amarillo, Texas, said during a preflight interview. The former test pilot was selected as an astronaut in 1994 on his fourth try. Space flight was his lifelong passion, along with singing. Husband, a baritone, had barbershop quartet experience and sang in church choirs.





Go Rest High On That Mountain

I know your life
On earth was troubled 
And only you could know the pain 
You weren't afraid to face the devil 
You were no stranger to the rain

  Go rest high on that mountain 
Son, your work on earth is done 
Go to heaven a shoutin' 
Love for the Father and the Son

Oh, how we cried the day you left us 
We gathered round your grave to grieve
I wish I could see the angels faces
When they hear your sweet voice sing

 Go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a shoutin'
Love for the Father and the Son


Go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a shoutin'
Love for the Father and the Son

Written by Vince Gill

Kalpana Chawla wanted to design aircraft when she emigrated to the United States from India in the 1980s. The space program was the furthest thing from her mind. But "one thing led to another," the 41-year-old engineer said, and she was chosen as an astronaut in 1994. This is Chawla's second space flight.

William McCool said one of the most nerve-racking parts of training was learning to draw blood — from others. Columbia’s two pilots were exempted from invasive medical tests in orbit, like blood draws. That meant he and his commander had to draw blood from their crewmates. McCool felt bad practicing on volunteers. "I didn’t want to inflict pain," he said before the flight. The former Navy test pilot became an astronaut in 1996. This was the first space flight for McCool, 41, who grew up in Lubbock, Texas.

David Brown was a Navy novelty: a jet pilot as well as a doctor. He was also probably the only NASA astronaut to have worked as a circus acrobat. (It was a summer job during college.) He said what he learned about "the teamwork and the safety and the staying focused" carried over to his space job. He joined the Navy after his medical internship, and held a captain's rank. NASA chose him as an astronaut in 1996. This was the 46-year-old Virginia native's first space flight.

Laurel Clark, a Navy physician who worked undersea, likened Columbia's numerous launch delays to a marathon in which the finish line kept moving out five miles. "You’ve got to slow back down and maintain a pace," she said. The 41-year-old Clark was a diving medical officer aboard submarines and then a naval flight surgeon. She became an astronaut in 1996. Clark's chief task was to help with Columbia’s science experiments. Her hometown was Racine, Wis.


Michael Anderson loved flying,
both in aircraft and spacecraft,
but he disliked being launched.
"There’s always that unknown,"
he said before the flight.
Anderson, 43, the son of an Air Force man,
 grew up on military bases.
He was flying for the Air Force
 when NASA chose him in 1994
 as one of only a handful of astronauts.
He traveled to Russia’s Mir
space station in 1998.
He was a lieutenant colonel
and in charge of Columbia’s
dozens of experiments.
His hometown was Spokane, Wash.

Ilan Ramon, a colonel in Israel’s air force, was the first Israeli to be launched into space. His mother and grandmother survived the Auschwitz death camp. Like his Zionist father, the astronaut fought for his country, in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the Lebanon War in 1982. He took part in the 1981 air strike that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor. Ramon, 48, was selected as an astronaut in 1997 and moved to Houston in 1998 to train for a flight. He called Tel Aviv home.


Homeward Bound..

T’was a beautiful sunshiny day…
February 1, Two Thousand Three..
One we will always remember…
A sad day in history…

Family and friends patiently waited…
For the space shuttle to descend…
Anxiously watching the heavens…
Then.. something no one can comprehend…

Seven beautiful people…
Flying through the atmosphere…
One minute they are with us…
And the next no longer here.

For on the wings of Columbia…
The mighty foot of fate stepped in…
And in an instant they were called…
By God to come home to him…

They will always be our heroes…
Along with the Challenger crew…
Now in the heavens looking down..
Smiling on me and you…

© Jeannie Nourse


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Music "Go Rest High On That Mountain" by Vince Gill