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Shuttle Disaster

The president's address

Excerpts from President Bush's remarks about the astronauts at the memorial:

By GEORGE W. BUSH

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 5, 2003


RICK HUSBAND: 45, shuttle commander

Rick Husband was a boy of four when he first thought of being an astronaut. As a man and having become an astronaut, he found it was even more important to love his family and serve his Lord.

One of Rick's favorite hymns was How Great Thou Art, which offers these words of praise: "I see the stars. I hear the mighty thunder. Thy power throughout the universe displayed."

* * *

DAVID BROWN: 46, mission specialist

David Brown was first drawn to the stars as a little boy with a telescope in his back yard. He admired astronauts, but as he said: "I thought they were movie stars. I thought I was kind of a normal kid."

David grew up to be a physician, an aviator who could land on the deck of a carrier in the middle of the night and a shuttle astronaut. His brother asked him several weeks ago, what would happen if something went wrong on their mission? David replied, "This program will go on."

* * *

MICHAEL ANDERSON: 43, payload commander

Michael Anderson always wanted to fly planes and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. Along the way, he became a role model, especially for his two daughters and for the many children he spoke to in schools.

He said to them, "Whatever you want to be in life, you're training for it now."

He also told his minister, "If this think doesn't come out right, don't worry about me. I'm just going on higher."

* * *

LAURA CLARK: 41, mission specialist

Laurel Salton Clark was a physician and a flight surgeon who loved adventure, loved her work, loved her husband and her son. A friend who heard Laurel speaking to mission control said, "There was a smile in her voice."

Laurel conducted some of the experiments as Columbia orbited the Earth and described seeing new life emerge from a tiny cocoon. "Life," she said, "continues in a lot of places, and life is a magical thing."

* * *

KALPANA CHAWLA: 41, mission specialist

None of our astronauts traveled a longer path to space than Kalpana Chawla. She left India as a student, but she would see the nation of her birth, all of it, from hundreds of miles above.

When the sad news reached her hometown, an administrator at her high school recalled, "She always said she wanted to reach the stars." She went there and beyond.

Kalpana's native country mourns her today and so does her adopted land.

* * *

ILAN RAMON: 48, payload specialist

Ilan Ramon also flew above his home, the land of Israel. He said, "The quiet that envelops space makes the beauty even more powerful, and I only hope that the quiet can one day spread to my country."

Ilan was a patriot, the devoted son of a Holocaust survivor, served his country in two wars.

"Ilan," said his wife Rona, "left us at his peak moment, in his favorite place, with people he loved."

* * *

WILLAIM McCOOL: 41, pilot

Columbia's pilot was Cmdr. Willy McCool, whom friends knew as the most steady and dependable of men. In Lubbock today, they're thinking back to the Eagle Scout who became a distinguished naval officer and a fearless test pilot.

One friend remembers Willy this way, "He was blessed, and we were blessed to know him."

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