Press Release

Boehlert Statement on Space Shuttle Columbia Resolution

By SpaceRef Editor
February 5, 2003
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) gave the following statement today during debate on the Resolution expressing the condolences of the House of Representatives to the families of the crew of the space shuttle Columbia:

“With sadness, I want to join my colleagues in memorializing the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia.  All of us on the floor today are trying to do the same thing – we are trying to fill a palpable absence with intangible words.  It’s quite literally an impossible task, and all the more heart-rending because we witnessed the moments when the Shuttle vanished into thin air. 

“I can only begin to imagine the pain of the crews’ colleagues, friends and family, who knew these men and women not just as the brave heroes that we have come, perhaps too late, to fully appreciate, but also as individuals – each with his or her unique personality, accomplishments and responsibilities.  They – much more than us – must live with the absences created by Saturday’s tragedy.

“But it is not just absence we are acknowledging in our remarks; it is also a presence.  The names and faces and stories of the Columbia crew are now engraved in our hearts and minds – not just because they died, but because they lived.  They were brave and dedicated and talented, and they set an example for us all.  They are as much an inspiration in death as in life – and they join a long line of explorers who have sacrificed their lives charting the future for all of us.  We are in their debt. 

“Yesterday at the memorial service in Houston, I was taken with the quiet dignity so evident on the part of so many. We, in an hour of pain and sorrow, took our lead from the families. They know, they must know, that the nation and indeed the world is grieving with them. And as I sat there thinking about lifetimes of achievements snuffed out in a moment of tragedy, I did what so many of us have done. All of us associated with the investigation are determined to find out what went wrong, and to fix it. And then we must move on with exploration – with the search for new frontiers. That will be the enduring legacy of the Columbia seven.”

SpaceRef staff editor.