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A Nation Mourns With It's President For Hero's In Space

Members of the Space Shuttle Columbia Crew

Saturday, February 1, 2003 the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry to the earth's atmosphere. All seven crew members, six Americans and one Israeli, were lost.

IN MEMORIAM The members of Columbia's crew were each highly trained and highly respected individuals. Their loss deals a great blow to the Space Shuttle program, though the President pledged today that the program would go on. The members of the crew were:


Colonel Rick Husband
Colonel Rick Husband
Lt. Colonel Michael Anderson
Lt. Colonel Michael Anderson
Commander Laurel Clark
Commander Laurel Clark
Captain David Brown
Captain David Brown
Commander William McCool
Commander William McCool
Dr. Kalpana Chawla
Dr. Kalpana Chawla
Ilan Ramon, Colonel, Israeli Air Force
Ilan Ramon, Colonel,
Israeli Air Force

Two members of the Columbia crew are known to be people of faith and prayer. Colonel Rick D. Husband spoke openly of the many joyful experiences he had, including the birth of his children, "Just being there with my wife, and just the awesome experience of seeing a baby come into the world--and just being so overwhelmed with God's goodness in blessing us with two wonderful children." Husband also spoke of his love of music and singing, "Well, I've been singing for a long time. When I was growing up going to church, I sang in church choir as a real little kid...Especially with some of the songs that we sing in church, just being able to sing a song to tell God how much I love Him, it just feels great. It really does."

Lieutenant Colonel Michael P. Anderson was active in his church and though quiet, his pastor said he was a man of solid faith. Reflecting on the many people who have influenced his life, including teachers and ministers, he commented, "As you look back at your life, there are just a million different things that have happened, just in the right way, to allow you to make your dreams come true. And you know, someone has all that under control."

In a chilling irony, members of the Columbia crew observed a moment of silence on Tuesday, January 28 in honor of the lives that had been lost in both the Apollo One and Challenger missions and all others who have lost their lives in the quest to explore space. Columbia's team leader, Rick Husband called the Johnson Space Center on Tuesday afternoon saying,

"It is today that we remember and honor the crews of Apollo 1 and Challenger. They made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives and service to their country and for all mankind. Their dedication and devotion to the exploration of space was an inspiration to each of us, and still motivates people around the world to achieve great things in service to others. As we orbit the Earth, we will join the entire NASA family for a moment of silence in their memory. Our thoughts and prayers go to their families as well"
--STS-107 commander Rick Husband.

The moment of silence was followed by ringing a bell for each astronaut that has died in the line of duty.

In light of the tragedy, President Bush requested prayer for the families and loved ones of the shuttle Columbia's crew.

The President spoke to the nation this afternoon, offering these words of gratitude to the brave astronauts who lost their lives:

"My fellow Americans, this day has brought terrible news and great sadness to our country. At 9:00 a.m. this morning, Mission Control in Houston lost contact with our Space Shuttle Columbia. A short time later, debris was seen falling from the skies above Texas. The Columbia is lost; there are no survivors.

On board was a crew of seven: Colonel Rick Husband; Lt. Colonel Michael Anderson; Commander Laurel Clark; Captain David Brown; Commander William McCool; Dr. Kalpana Chawla; and Ilan Ramon, a Colonel in the Israeli Air Force. These men and women assumed great risk in the service to all humanity.

In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket, and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere of the Earth. These astronauts knew the dangers, and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the more.

All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families of these men and women who have been given this sudden shock and grief. You're not alone. Our entire nation grieves with you. And those you loved will always have the respect and gratitude of this country.

The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.

In the skies today we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet farther than we can see there is comfort and hope. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, 'Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing' (Isaiah 40:25-26).

The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home.
May God bless the grieving families, and may God continue to bless America."
--George W. Bush

Prayer points for today:
Pray for the President as he and his fellow leaders provide comfort and direction in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Pray for the families and loved ones of Columbia's crew-for their comfort, their courage, and their strength. The names of the astronauts are listed above.
Pray for Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge as he coordinates the federal response to the tragedy.
Pray for the dozens of local law enforcement agencies that will be involved in recovering debris from the Columbia. Pray for their safety and protection, and for the public to cooperate with their efforts.
Pray for the nation of Israel which has lost a national hero in astronaut Ilan Ramon.

The Presidential Prayer Team is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established to encourage and remind individuals to pray for the President, his advisors and our nation's leaders. The PPT does not endorse, support or oppose political candidates, campaigns or parties. Individual and corporate contributions are tax-deductible.
©Copyright 2003, The Presidential Prayer Team, Inc. All rights reserved. The Presidential Prayer Team name and seal are trademarks of The Presidential Prayer Team, Inc.


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