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Columbia Touched Our Souls
Gregory J. Rummo
destruction of the space shuttle Columbia has
profoundly touched Americans, indeed the world.
Millions sat in stunned silence, riveted to their
television sets on Saturday as they followed the
A tearful President Bush addressed the nation at 2
PM that day, expressing his grief and offering
condolences to the families of those killed on the
And then he touched our souls with a quote from the
Old Testament book of 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.”
Shuttle launches have become symbolic of America
like Mount Rushmore or the Washington Monument.
They are technological marvels—proud displays of
what the best and the freest scientific minds can
accomplish. They also provide an international
stage upon which brave men and women from different
countries and with different backgrounds can train
together for many months, working as a team toward
the betterment of mankind.
People from all over the world vacationing in
Florida flock to Titusville every year to witness
A shuttle launch is something majestic.
Experiencing one in person provides an awesome
demonstration of man’s desire to reach beyond the
boundaries of his own world.
It was almost two years ago on a warm day in April.
A gentle breeze blew across the blue water of
Florida’s Intercostal Waterway as a few pelicans
lazily flew by. Five miles away on the other side
of the bay stood the space shuttle Endeavour.
We had waited over two hours with several thousand
other people. Because the shuttle was scheduled to
rendezvous with the international space station on
this mission, the launch window was a very narrow
five minutes. But as the clock wound down it became
apparent that this mission was going to get off the
ground without a hitch. Suddenly an orange flame
shot out from underneath the shuttle as
the two solid rocket boosters ignited. The flame
was momentarily hidden behind the cloud of thick,
gray rocket fuel exhaust and white clouds of water
vapor from the combustion of the liquid oxygen and
hydrogen fueling Endeavour’s three main engines.
Then the shuttle rose from its launch pad and
instantly the crowd exploded into wild cheers.
The wind carried the rumble of the engines to our
ears some twenty-five seconds later. As the ground
trembled and the Endeavour climbed ever higher, my
eyes welled up with tears.
President Bush said we are “led into the darkness
beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery
and the longing to understand.” He understands this
inspiration to reach into the heavens is anchored
in our spiritual nature, the result of our creation
in the image of God.
Another Old Testament writer named Job asked
rhetorically, “Is not God in the height of heaven?
...You will make your prayer to Him, He will hear
you.” As Americans mourn the death of Columbia’s
seven astronauts, these words serve as a reminder
that even in the midst of this national tragedy,
God is still very much with us and is willing to
listen to our prayers.
Gregory J. Rummo is a syndicated columnist.
Contact him through his website;
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