The entire nation is mourning the loss of space shuttle Columbia and the seven men and women who lost their lives in the name of space exploration.
The 100-ton shuttle burst into flames as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.
It nearly disintegrated in the sky, and left debris strewn across Texas and Louisiana.
This all transpired just 16 minutes before the shuttle was scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Not much can happen in 16 minutes.
Yet 16 minutes robbed husbands, wives and children of their honorable astronaut family members.
Sixteen minutes left a nation in mourning, and forced flags to fly at half-mast.
It also left me asking: If 16 minutes can change lives forever, what can a day, a week or a year do?
This question frequents my thoughts due to the amount of tragedy, disaster and death our nation has experienced recently.
The Columbia crash killed seven.
A pharmaceutical plant explosion in Kinston, N.C. killed at least three people, injured 37, and left ten in critical condition. And that’s only the beginning.
David Franklin, a substitute teacher in Fort Worth, Texas was accused of raping a 14-year old student. Two other male students participated in the assault.
Six more watched.
In Florida, Nevia Abraham, armed with a handgun and rifle, stole a mail truck.
He took a female mail-carrier hostage and had a standoff with police the lasted five hours.
The chase locked down 48 area schools for precautionary measures.
The pending war with Iraq is looming, unemployment is rising, and the economy is spiraling downward.
If that wasn’t enough, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow.
All of these events are disenchanting, but they serve as a lesson to those of us who are alive and well.
Every second that goes by is a blessing, and the fact that we are living, breathing beings is a miracle.
If that doesn’t hit home, maybe the shooting in Vivacqua Hall does.
Shawn Walker, a former Temple Student, shot junior Cori Miller with a .38 caliber revolver, wounding her in the face and chest. Walker then shot himself in the head.
The Temple community, as well as the nation, has been stricken with grief.
As a student and as an American, my heart goes out to all of those affected by the recent tragedies that have plagued this great nation.
As a human being, I profess my love for life and use the aforementioned examples as motivation to overlook struggle in order to triumph. There’s no good reason to do otherwise.
Mark “E” Everett, leader singer of the Eels, shares this passion.
“E” and his band-mates released their sophomore album in 1998 entitled “Electro-Shock Blues.”
The album reflected a year in which the vocalist lost his sister to suicide, and endured the illness of his mother.
During the album’s last song Everett sings, “I was at a funeral the day I realized I wanted to spend my life with you/Sitting down on the steps at the old post office, the flag was flying at half-mast/And I was thinkin’ ’bout how everyone is dying. And maybe it’s time to live.”
Staring in the face of loss, I couldn’t imagine a better conclusion.
Brandon Lausch can be reached at Goskateboarding2000@hotmail.com.