tv Book Discussion on The Time of Our Lives CSPAN January 28, 2016 7:57am-8:09am EST
we mourn seven heroes, michael smith, dick scobee, judith resnik, ronald mcnair, ellison onizuka, gregory jarvis, and christa mcauliffe. we mourn their loss as a nation together. for the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. but we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, give me a challenge and i'll meet it with joy. they had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. they wished to serve, and they did. they served all of us. we've grown used to wonders in this century. it's hard to dazzle us. but for 25 years the united states space program has been doing just that. we've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget
that we've only just begun. we're still pioneers. they, the members of the challenger crew, were pioneers. and i want to say something to the schoolchildren of america who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. i know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. it's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. it's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. the future doesn't belong to the fainthearted, it belongs to the brave. the challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them. i've always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. we don't hide our space program. we don't keep secrets and cover things up. we do it all up front and in public. that's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute. we'll continue our quest in
space. there will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. nothing ends here, our hopes and our journeys continue. i want to add that i wish i could talk to every man and woman who works for nasa or who worked on this mission and tell them, your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. and we know of your anguish. we share it. there's a coincidence today. on this day 390 years ago, the great explorer sir francis drake died aboard ship off the coast of panama. in his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and an historian later said, he lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it. well, today we can say of the challenger crew, their dedication was, like drake's,
complete. the crew of the space shuttle challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. we will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of god. thank you. >> reagan's address was written by speechwriter peggy noonan. she described the process of writing the speech ronald reagan gave to the nation just hours after the space shuttle challenger exploded. the discussion at the junction explosion took place to in her appearance at the miami book fair in november of last year. >> let's talk about the challenger explosion and that famous speech now that is really in the books as one of the greats.
that was such an interesting day. that was january 1985. 85 or 86? unblocking. january 1986, thank you, sir. it is in my book a chapter called a lecture. and what it is is a lecture that i gave to some students at harvard university a few years ago. they were members of the class on government, traditionally many members of the class to go into government. i wanted to tell them as a visiting person invite to speak to them about, want to kill them one thing. and it was this. you're going to go into government and after a while your job is going to bore you. and it is going to be the same. is going to be the same ol' same ol'. you're going to start took a course i love it would do a little bit lazy. but limited with government is
like. someday something big is going to happen and it's going to explode and world is going to turn upside down. and on the day you're going to have to bring the best that you have within you to that moment. everybody around you is going to have to bring the best that they've got to meet that moment. and, indeed, i think that's what we did that day. >> i wanted to talk about the poem. >> sorry. a terrible accident had happened. the challenger had blown up. we all watched it live on tv, and a single thing happened. the white house, when a tragedy like that occurs, everything pops. everybody is on the phone. everybody is in a meeting. everybody has to have an urgent communication with somebody else. i just remove myself from all of that.com under the president is going to speak in the next few
hours, because this was a huge tragedy, and someone is going to have to start working at the. somewhat to my boss and i said i'm going to start work. he said go. i sit in my office at a stroke working as everything is exploding around me. at a certain point my bosses little girl meredith who for some reason had gone to work with him that day, walked into my office. she was my little friend, seven, eight years old. she looked at the tv and looked at me and said the sickly, the teacher was on the rocket. is the teacher all right? and at that point i remembered, every school child in america was watching the challenger go up because indeed it was a schoolteacher, a public school teacher, christa mcauliffe, who was on that space shuttle. she was there as an astronaut. it was so exciting for the schools of america. to all the kids were watching it in assemblies come all the
teachers, everybody was shocked. so it occurred to me, won't, so the president is going to have to do a speech that is aimed at, if those were eight years old and those who are 18 and those who are 80, without patronizing anybody, as all do we talk to the young and we talk to the old. as i worked, a woman ran in from the national security council. she just talked to reagan. she had been in his office, she'd been at a meeting within. she wrote in everything he said. she brought it into me. that became the spine of the speech. at the end of the speech, i had been cut out of the corner of my eye, watching cnn all that morning after the blowup, and they kept it, cnn, showing over and over again these poor astronauts and their astronaut uniforms leaving the holding area and going to the space
shuttle itself. and as they left and their astronaut uniforms with a big heavy gloves, they waved goodbye to the television cameras in this jolly way that succeed in a few hours or a few days. very poignant. watching that i thought of something i learned in the seventh grade in massapequa long island in english class. but it was a poem by john gillespie magee, jr. called high flight. it was about the joy of flying. this was written at a time when most people have not flown. it was the 1930s. john gillespie magee, jr. became a fighter pilot in world war ii as world war ii began, and died in the run up to the war. but he left behind disputable poem. it ended with the words and slipped the certainly bonds of earth to touch the face of god. it just came to me. i just remembered it from seventh grade. here's the thing. i made at the end of the speech,
but there was a mystery. i knew that ronald reagan would only use those words if he knew that poem, and if that poem meant something to them. and i hoped he knew and i hoped it meant something, but just be careful, the speech ended actually before that paragraph so it would be easier for the president to kill that paragraph and not say it. recap the speech done. there was no time to ruin it, by which i mean normally presidential speeches are staffed out to hundreds of people who can't help themselves. they think defensively or they think aggressively, whatever they're doing, they change everything around. sometimes i don't know good from bad and so they make things a little worse or take out something that's good and believe in something that's done. so the static process can kill a speech. in this case there was no staffing process essentially. it was more or less -- we are in
a big hurry, boom, boom, boom. i put on the tv like everybody else but i watched reagan and, indeed, reagan looked very disappointed, not disappointed. he was sad and he was dashed. he looked stricken on tv. he did the speech. it had everything that he wanted, and at the end he quoted the john gillespie magee, jr. paula. but he was, it was the first of i could ever see ronald reagan was really upset. he was upset in part about the teacher, in part about this was a dreadful tragedy, in part because he understood it was the height of the cold war. you are going to have to let the world know a little bit, no, no, no, soviet union, this is not quote a military disaster. there was a lot going on, a lot going on in that speech. reagan left the oval office after that speech feeling that
it had not succeeded. in the words of abraham lincoln, he felt that it did not scoured. lincoln said a good speech scholars, it breaks up the earth. reagan did not feel that the speech had that the moment. i came to think afterwards that he thought that in part because there's nothing you can say that could meet a moment that was that painful to the american people, and to you. i picked up from watching reagan how he felt, and i absorbed it and i felt it, too. so everybody went home, not by that night, either, feeling very sad about what had happened, the history that had happened and also on reagan's part in my part feeling that we have not met the moment, feeling very disappointed in ourselves. however, something changed overnight. people started reacting. the press started reporting. kids started talking. something happened overnight.