Posted 05 February 2003 - 09:31 PM
Okay, I found the poem I was looking for. There is a small space museum in our state, and they have a memorial to the crew of the Challenger, and also to the three astronauts who died in the launch pad fire in the Apollo program.
Part of the memorial is a pillar set up outside the building, and on it is this poem:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high unsurpassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
-- Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee
The site I found it on mentioned that this poem was apparently a favorite of Christa McAuliffe.
There was also a little information about the author of the poem---John Magee (I've seen it spelled McGee also) was a pilot serving in WWII and was killed during the war. The information mentioned that he was an American serving with the RCAF. I'd read before that he was a serviceman who died in action, and somehow always envisioned him as being in his thirties---maybe because of the sophistication of the poem. But the site listed his age at the time of death---he was nineteen.
Anyway, I wanted to share this.