Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo
Extremeskins

And Four More ...


Henry

Recommended Posts

Something Tarhog touched on in the Shuttle thread. I thought this was worth mention. From the WP op-ed section:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16840-2003Feb2.html

And Four More

LAST THURSDAY, on a high Afghan plain seven miles east of Bagram air base, a Blackhawk helicopter went down, killing the entire crew. The four U.S. soldiers who died in the accident, like the seven astronauts who perished Saturday, were volunteers, taking on risks they understood well in service of their country. Beyond their units and their families, their deaths attracted little notice -- a paragraph or two in some newspapers, not even that in others.

The tragedy of the space shuttle Columbia grips the nation as do few other catastrophes, and for good reasons. Even this many decades into space exploration, the astronauts embrace dangers that the rest of us can only imagine -- but that many of us do imagine, and even dream of. As they fling themselves into orbit and float in the void while trying to tell us what they see and feel, men and women like David M. Brown and Kalpana Chawla and the others who died Saturday become more than role models of discipline and courage and good cheer in cramped circumstances. They come to embody national aspirations of greatness, and human aspirations to reach beyond ourselves.

Yet as we read the biographies of these brave seven, replay their buoyant interviews of recent days and come to know the grief-stricken but proud surviving spouses and parents, we might spare a moment also for the four who died near Bagram, and the others most of us will never hear about. As their remains were transported to Germany for autopsies on the way home, the victims were identified as Chief Warrant Officer Mark S. O'Steen, 43, of Alabama; Chief Warrant Officer Thomas J. Gibbons, 31, of Tennessee; Sgt. Gregory M. Frampton, 37, of California; and Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Kisling Jr., 31, of Missouri. They joined 18 other service members who have died in accidents in the Afghanistan campaign and 25 killed by hostile fire -- a total of 47 deaths since the fall of 2001. Thousands risk their lives every day in that distant country and in the skies over Iraq, and thousands more may soon be asked to do so. With so many reserves being pressed into service and scheduled retirements from the military being delayed, the term "volunteer" is stretched and tested. But these are all people who know, or who knew, they might face danger. These casualties, too, leave empty spaces in the lives of loved ones.

The prayers of a nation were offered yesterday in memory of seven astronauts and their families, and rightly so. They gave everything in service to the nation, as did the Bagram four and so many more.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife said the same thing last night. "I don't get it. It's seven people. That many will die tomorrow driving to work (because of a huge storm we had)." I don't know exactly what is so compelling about this story. I know it's different. Hearing the news jarred me. I wondered what was going on. I went to the television to watch. Hearing about the accident in Afghanistan didn't even register more than a, "Thanks for the service boys, you are needed and now missed." Maybe even less than that.

What is it that compels us to view the two as so substantially different we see the coverage we do for one and not the other?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by Art

My wife said the same thing last night. "I don't get it. It's seven people. That many will die tomorrow driving to work (because of a huge storm we had)." I don't know exactly what is so compelling about this story. I know it's different. Hearing the news jarred me. I wondered what was going on. I went to the television to watch. Hearing about the accident in Afghanistan didn't even register more than a, "Thanks for the service boys, you are needed and now missed." Maybe even less than that.

What is it that compels us to view the two as so substantially different we see the coverage we do for one and not the other?

I agree 100%. People make me feel unpatriotic because I look at it this way, They know the risks, they know that what they do is extremely dangerous, it is not the same as 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, or the guy that gets killed in a car accident....

Link to post
Share on other sites

I certainly don't begrudge the Columbia crew and their families what ever attention and national grief their deaths bring...it just always strikes me as out of balance. Obviously its a dramatic thing to lose a space shuttle while huge numbers of witnesses look on. I think the more pertinent point though is that the shuttle is a symbol of America's technological supremacy and to a certain extent 'invincibility'. I read several transcripts of 'Al Jazeera' stories that touched on this very point. Its not so much that the Arab world 'rejoices' in the tragedy (although I'm sure theres some of that) but that they see this as 'comeuppance' for American hubris and proof that, despite our ability to dominate their region whenever we choose, we are still subject to the rules of God and nature. Finally, I think one of the reasons there is such massive media attention (just as their was with the beltway sniper story) is that since 9/11 we all have a sense of dread just below the surface waiting for the next 'big thing' and that feeling of potential doom gets tapped into whenever a disaster (manmade or otherwise) occurs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's simple and understandable. Those seven who died on the shuttle embody and personify human ambition. They pushed the bounderys of human endeavours and died in the pursuit of science for all mankind.

Of course those soldiers who died in the blackhawk crash and those who die in noble causes every day deserve our respect. But every time a man or woman leaves the bounderys of this earth to venture into space, they take us with them and invite us to dream.

God bless them all.

Link to post
Share on other sites

ah folks....many on that shuttle were military people......

1) one's on TV, the other isn't

2) military often carry a negative connotation because, let's face it, our job is to kill and destroy when directed to do so; the shuttle is perceived as positive in the service of mankind (although, I'm sure the military has benefitted from much of the science that has been conducted on the shuttle flights)...

what caught my attention is the NASA position that 2 destructions in 113 missions is a good track record...my guess is that squadron commanders in the military would be relieved of command if 2 out of every 113 launches resulted in catastrophic failure and loss of life....

Link to post
Share on other sites

An interesting observation I hadn't thought of.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22810-2003Feb4.html

Not Everyone Weeps for Columbia

Latest Tragedy Likely to Have Less Resonance Than Challenger

By Howard Kurtz

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 4, 2003; 9:02 AM

The Columbia tragedy has produced something of a generation gap.

Those over a certain age, who grew up with the space program, see it the way most of the media see it, as a huge, gripping national calamity.

Those who grew up in an era when the space shuttle was as common as the Delta shuttle don't quite get it. They see what happened as more like a plane crash that happened to involve a very big plane.

This group sees the media going totally overboard. They watch the saturation coverage and wonder why the death of seven people is so much more important than, say, Iraq or other world events.

Perhaps the exploration of space just seems inherently more noble to those who remember

when John Glenn got a tickertape parade for orbiting the Earth, when JFK was taking on the Sputnik program in trying to beat the Soviets to the moon. No one asked why. There was a Cold War on.

And the buildup to the Challenger was so much greater in 1986 than for last month's Columbia launch, in part because the earlier flight took along a schoolteacher in an attempt by NASA to build public support for the shuttle. Anyone who remembers that sad day undoubtedly felt an extra twinge last weekend when a second shuttle disappeared in the sky, right before our eyes.

But without that emotional baggage, the story apparently doesn't have the same resonance.

Some of these conflicting views surfaced in our online chat yesterday.

"Arlington, Mass.: An informal survey of friends in my age group, all of whom were in elementary school during the Challenger tragedy, showed that while there is great sympathy for the loss of lives, this doesn't rise up to the level of 'where were you when [XYZ] happened' of the Challenger or 9/11. Seems however, that the media is aggressively promoting the hyper-importance of the event to a nation already numbed by 3,000 dead in a terrorist attack."

Washington, D.C.: "I was positively transported back to my desk in high school. It was an odd juxtaposition, because I remember how big a national tragedy Challenger seemed to me while Columbia seems like a drop in the bucket."

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Mad Mike, but at the same time I do hold our policemen, firemen, and military service men and women in extremely high regard.

As to the generational numbness noted in Henry's article, I've experienced it first hand. My Earth Science class had literally just finished studying the Shuttle program and other current space initiatives. I took Monday to make sure that the students felt the true weight of what was happening. I read Reagan's speech regarding the Challenger and Bush's speach regarding Columbia while pictures of the crew circulated the room. We also discussed the selfless actions of police, firemen, and the military. It took the kids aback a bit, but hopefully they left the room with a deeper appreciation and respect for those who sacrifice their lives protecting and improving our way of life.

Link to post
Share on other sites
what caught my attention is the NASA position that 2 destructions in 113 missions is a good track record...my guess is that squadron commanders in the military would be relieved of command if 2 out of every 113 launches resulted in catastrophic failure and loss of life....

While I understand perfectly what your saying, it's an unfair comparison. The modern fighter has had around 50 years to develop, with unlimited flight time to test. Compared to 113 flights in 16(?) years. Two out of 113 would most definitely be unacceptable for any earthbound aircraft, but the shuttle, like most other spacecraft are experimental. IMO, they will be considered so till the day comes we actually fly into space on a weekly basis.

That being said, I also don’t like the way they throw that fact out at you. I hate the numbers game when it comes to peoples lives as in the space program, armed forces, and the many other dangerous occupations out there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...