Goodbye to Heroes

photo of the full moon in autumn

"...the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

---the family of Neil Armstrong

"A few years ago, I was in Florida, driving up the east coast on highway A1A, which is as far east as you can get and not be in the Atlantic Ocean. It was night, and I was driving over a long bridge, when I saw something very beautiful in the sky. It started out like a streak of orange flame, and then, as it rose, it burned bluer and brighter than anything I'd ever seen -- the nursery rhyme line "like a diamond in the sky" suddenly had meaning, a huge, blazing, blue-white diamond of flame, and I pulled over to the side of the bridge and watched it rise and rise and rise; and realised I watching a space shuttle launch, one that had been delayed for days because of dodgy weather, and now it was launching and I was watching it, and I felt very proud to be part of something -- humanity, I suppose -- that had put that flaming diamond up there. And eventually it rose out of sight, and I drove north.

"There are people dead now, and hurt, and pain, and questions. But I still feel proud to be part of the thing that made it."

--Neil Gaiman,
journal, February 02, 2003

"As a boy, I used to draw endlessly, and spacemen and spaceships were favorite themes. I sometimes drew crashed vessels, burnt and broken starships on distant worlds. I suppose the fragility of the thin metal shell of the craft in comparison to the infinity of space is part of the daunting enormity of the vision of space travel, and the possibility of disaster makes us appreciate the daring and courage of the pioneers. Disasters will always be part of space travel, as shipwrecks are part of the history and romance of seafaring.

"He was one of our own, one who aired our dreams and dared to live them. We know he was the first, and many more will follow, because the future is up there. And the future, as always, is just beginning."

--Avi Katz
[eulogy for Ilan Ramon, one of the Columbia astronauts]

Seventeen years ago I wrote a poem dedicated to the Challenger crew. While I sometimes do write sappy poems, I don't usually share them with others. But I believed in what I wrote then, and I stand by it now.

Requiescant in Pace

Goodbye, challengers, goodbye and rest easy.
Your dreams are beleaguered, but yet they live on
As long as we dream, and, dreaming, remember;
or ever, at nighttime, look up to the stars.

--Geoffrey A. Landis

page by Geoffrey A. Landis, 2003