"One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap For Mankind." Over the past 34 years these words spoken by Earth's first visitors to another world has harkened the spirit of men and women to follow and for many to lead the way. In the beginning, God created the universe and set humankind on a destiny as space beings whether or not we voyaged away from this earthly home or not. From this spectacular vantage point all eyes can see or have seen the glory of the universe the Sun that rules over the day and the Moon and stars at night.
"A beacon is a signal to approach carefully and seek refuge and hope." For us here in the 21st Century, recently we witnessed the first losses of this age's endeavor to push forward on this perpetual search to explore and expand our knowledge of this place called creation. On February 1, 2003, NASA space shuttle Columbia STS 107 met at a time and place where its fate was to be sealed. Columbia, a 20th Century space flight concept self bound with the constraints and advantages of that age, had successfully flown (27) times. As the oldest of NASA's fleet this would have been Columbia's last mission in space.
Within its breached confines, seven (7) souls that had just for 16 days and a few precious moments felt the elation of a job well done, found themselves captured in a fatal circumstance. This was no fault of their own except today was the day that Columbia would falter and fail them.
This event is even more meaningful to me as I was there on April 12th, 1981 to witness the landing of Columbia's first mission as STS 1 at Edwards Air Force Base in Mojave, California. At that time, I joined over 250,000 people on hand to hear and feel the thunder of its powerless flight (breaking of the sound barrier). Columbia's first mission successfully introduced us to the present stage of manned space travel.
The Month of February (Black History Month) has been set aside to reflect with pride on the accomplishments of all African-Americans. Here we wish to honor and remember these African-American men and women involved in flight who paid the supreme sacrifice. "Forever Joined Hand and Shoulder"
Hildreth (Hal) Walker, Jr. Board Chairman
African-American Male Achievers Network, Inc.
International Science Discovery and Learning Center
February 4, 2003