Challenger crew honored


January 28, 1996
Web posted at: 8:50 p.m. EST

From Correspondent John Zarrella

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (CNN) -- Hundreds of people paid tribute Sunday to the seven crew members who died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded exactly 10 years ago. (706K QuickTime Movie)

The Space Mirror Memorial and the Center for Space Education were dedicated in their honor at the Kennedy Space Center.

Bruce Jarvis, father of Challenger crew member Greg, spoke on behalf of the families, saying that the Challenger crew "would be pleased that their footsteps are being followed and their hopes and dreams are marching forward." (162K AIFF sound or 162K WAV sound) He called the center a "living memorial for those who died."

In his somber speech, Jarvis paid tribute to "seven beautiful people," comparing the Challenger crew to those who pioneered the West. (162K AIFF sound or 162K WAV sound)

"We're here this morning to pay tribute to seven beautiful people, the crew of the Challenger which was lost 10 years ago," Jarvis said.

missing man

The memorial and space education center were made possible through the State of Florida's Challenger license plate program. More than 500,000 Floridians have purchased the plates since the program's inception. Bruce and wife Ellen Jarvis have placed more than 5,000 personal "Thank you" notes on windshields of Challenger license-plate holders.

After Jarvis' speech, four T-38 jets flew over the crowd in "missing man" formation, and there was 73 seconds of silence. (876K QuickTime movie) Challenger's flight 10 years ago lasted 73 seconds.

Bruce and Ellen Jarvis then placed a wreath, decorated in red, white and blue, at the foot of the memorial that bears the name of their son and the others aboard Challenger. Nine other astronauts and crew members have died during space-related projects.

wreath laying

Former Congressman and astronaut Bill Nelson, who also spoke at the event, said exploration is an essential part of the American character. "If we ever give up in this country being explorers, then we have lost part of the character of the American people and we would become a second-rate country," Nelson said.

At another memorial, about 100 people -- many of them children -- gathered for a brief ceremony at the Challenger Monument at Arlington National Cemetery, which marks the spot where remains of the seven Challenger victims were buried in May 1986.

Carmella LaSpada, who headed the event at Arlington, said the seven "embody the dreams we all have in humanity" and they should be "an inspiration for all of us to work for a better world."

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