Posts Tagged ‘WPrightnow’

Challenger Crew - NASA

The Challenger Crew. From NASA.

Next Thursday we’ll all be asking each other one question: where were you thirty years ago?

On January 28th, 1986, at 8:39 A.M., I was in math class. After some initial commotion, the classroom was quiet as we all diligently scribbled out the task at hand. One of our classmates was in the sitting area adjacent to the northwest corner of the classroom. Besides reading adventure books aloud to us, our teacher also rewarded students with time in that area, which was furnished with a stereo.

In 1986 many of us kids had a strong pride in our country and its technological prowess. This was the year Top Gun would wow us, Reagan would launch air strikes against Libya, and we felt well-defended against the shadowy, mysterious Russians on the other side of the globe. January 28th radiated this patriotic pride as the Challenger space shuttle prepared to launch on a gloriously sunny day.

Suddenly, Scott, who’d been stretching out his legs near the stereo, exclaimed, “the space shuttle just blew up!” A shock wave stunned the classroom as we all gasped and tried to make sense of what he’d just said. Shortly after, our principal came onto the intercom and announced that the Challenger had just exploded. What?!!

Our school had been keeping close tabs on the space program because one of our teachers from a few grades prior had been considered by NASA for this mission. Christa McAuliffe, a teacher from New Hampshire, was the finalist. She and six others were aboard the ill-fated space shuttle that disintegrated off the coast of Florida.

More than fifteen years later, the image of people jumping out of hellish infernos in Manhattan would be forever seared into our minds. But for us Gen Xers in 1986, the image that will never leave us is this:

Challenger Explosion

We tried to make sense of it. While my friends and I were well-versed in the early failures and fatalities in aviation and the space program, this was the ’80s. This wasn’t supposed to happen. We’d advanced. We’d adapted. These problems weren’t possible. That a space vehicle containing such a wonderful diversity of Americans as well as a teacher just blew up– no, no, no. These things didn’t happen in our country.

For years we waited for answers as the Rogers Commission did its thing. Ultimately we all learned about the o-ring. The o-ring did it. With the ice. A minor player killed our heroes. Perhaps the worst part of the truths of this tragedy coming to light was finding out that the cabin containing the crew could be seen flying off to the side. They were very likely alive as they dropped from the sky and then hit the ocean at over 200 miles an hour. Did they even have time to realize what had happened?

On February 1st, 2003, a Saturday, I was sitting in bed with the TV on. In the blink of an eye I found myself back in January 1986. The space shuttle Columbia had broken up as it reentered the atmosphere. The first Israeli astronaut was killed along with another team of heroes. Debris, parts of the spacecraft, parts of people, rained down across the southern U.S. in a wide swath, plummeting from 231,000 feet.

This time there were no math problems. There was no intercom announcement. There was no Scott, no stereo. It wasn’t particularly sunny. But that horrific feeling of, “no, no, this does not happen in America” engulfed me like a tsunami. I put my knees up to my chest and just sobbed. There was a personal connection to this incident that made it particularly biting. Again I wondered how long each astronaut was alive after the explosion and what they would be thinking if they even had time to think.

Where were you January 28th, 1986? Three decades now span the chasm between now and then. Memories sometimes fade from steel bridges to rope walkways to wispy tendrils of smoke as the future consumes us. But not this memory. This one will always be fresh. More so than John Lennon being shot, or Reagan being shot, or the events at the Berlin Wall.

On January 28th, 2016, at 8:39 A.M. Pacific time, I will be sitting at my desk at work. I will be doing math. My radio might be on. In the northwest corner are filing cabinets. There will be an explosion to the southeast. An adolescent voice will announce the unthinkable and twenty-five children will burst into shocked conversation. A voice from the ceiling will confirm the event. A sea  of OP t-shirts, Levis, and matching socks will shimmer and shift in my mind as my feet are rooted to the floor in the third desk back.

We will try to make sense of this for years. But here, now, most of my life later, I’m not sure that some of us ever really have.

10,957 days later, it still feels like yesterday.


©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Click picture to go to NORAD's site

Click picture to go to NORAD’s site

Originally published December 2013


If that’s you as Christmas approaches, know that you are not alone in your unbridled exuberance. The North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, starts tracking Santa TONIGHT!

(AAAAHHH!!!) (more…)

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Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 1

“No, don’t take pictures. Just enjoy the parade.” Ha, that didn’t last. I couldn’t help myself. The annual Veterans Day Parade in Auburn, Washington is so rich with culture, color, and camaraderie that I used the old point and shoot to capture a lot of what we saw.

Someday I’ll get an expensive camera. Someday I’ll upgrade my blog so that these will display as a slideshow rather than one big long post. Right now I want to give you some windows into Main Street on Saturday, November 8th, 2014. It did not rain, the wind was still, and the brisk chill that had kicked off the morning dissipated as a hazy sun rose in the cloud-mottled sky.

I show you these pictures to remind you that freedom isn’t free. The freedom we have as Americans was bought by others’ blood, sweat, and sacrifices. These are the veterans who, by the grace of God, survived. Millions did not. Regardless of our views on the wars we’ve been involved in or our leadership, we can all find a veteran to thank for our freedom this week.

It’s not everyday you’re strolling up a residential street and see a helicopter parked at the curb…

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 2

There were many patriotic canines at this event. This one later marched in the parade in full regalia. I believe he was with the USO.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 3

Near the clock shop, I suddenly found myself in 1863 listening to a Civil War-era Fife and Drum Corps.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 5

Near Auburn High School I experienced a fluctuation in the space-time continuum and witnessed original American patriots observing Vietnam-era vets on their newfangled machines.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 6

Again I encountered the Civil War near the corner of East Main and G Street SE. This Buffalo Soldier’s horse was being admired by the local townspeople.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 7

Cropping a vehicle out of that photo meant I had to display it in sepia tones as well.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 8

Note not one, not two, but three American flags in this picture in addition to the VFW flag. Love those VFW guys.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 9

Ah, yes. Men in kilts. Note the MacGregor tartan. They actually all are MacGregors.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 10

The submarine veterans on one of their two subs on wheels.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 11

A stirring display of POW-MIA flags.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 12

Several groups of Native American veterans marched in the parade.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 13

Veterans of the Republic of Vietnam.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 14

The Vietnamese women all had such beautiful costumes.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 15

The Veterans Day Parade is an excellent place to see vintage cars and a variety of really nice bikes.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 16

Love seeing all those flags carried by the younger generation.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 17

Chimacum High School is about 10 miles south of Port Townsend. There have always been rumors that the Knights Templar sailed to America. Now you know where they wound up. (I loved how different their outfits were!)

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 18

Now this is heavy metal. It’s not every day you see a percussion section decked out in chain mail. Surely there is some cymbalism involved.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 19

Marysville-Pilchuck High School got a rousing ovation. It’s been just over two weeks since a murder-suicide at their school claimed the lives of four classmates plus the shooter. It was great to see them marching proudly to Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 20

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 21

As a large version of Old Glory was carried by, this canine patriot really, really, really wanted somebody to pet him. He was happy to see everyone.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 23

Here’s another patriotic puppy proud to participate in the parade. This one, sporting a cozy camouflage coat, was quite content to pass the time in a color-coordinated camouflage bed on the hood of this vintage Jeep.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 24

This was another Kodak moment that could be made to look like it was taken decades ago by switching to black and white.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 25

Some local Scouts were having a blast riding in this formidable collector’s vehicle.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 26

Here’s another moment that was begging to be morphed into a vintage version. Scroll down…

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 27

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 28

Here are the original American soldiers entering the procession, portrayed by the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution. Members must prove that they are direct descendants of an American patriot. And many people are– have you checked? Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 29

Yet another proud puppy. It was hilarious to watch dogs who were watching other dogs in the parade. When a dog would pass by, spectator dogs on the curb would perk up like, “Hey– I know that guy. Seriously, let me go see him. I need to smell him. I KNOW… THAT GUY.”

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 30

Heroes on the Water— check them out– provides healing and rehabilitation to veterans via kayak outings.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 31

Seriously, man. I need a hug. This very American alligator was cracking me up by looking so fierce but graciously interacting with others.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 32

My, what big teeth you have.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 33

The Sons of Italy have marched this route for many years. They are a favorite.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 34

Now how American is this? A marching band at a Veterans Day parade in red, white, and blue in front of a flagpole. The two light posts at the main entrance to Auburn High School that you see in the background are red with eagles on the top as well.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 35

Towards the end of the parade, the sky around the sun was swathed in cirrocumulus clouds. It was almost like looking at the ocean in the sky.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 36


Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 37



Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 38

There’s so much about Auburn’s East Main Street that’s just so small town America. Some of the buildings and stores have been there quite a while. Auburn actually has over 73,000 residents, but downtown feels like it always has.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 39

Even the aliens were waving flags. And swords. And… cat toys?

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 40

The grandstand where the dignitaries were seated. It is always an honor to observe and meet the vets from World War II and Korea in particular.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 41

The Vietnam era to modern day vets do love their motorcycles.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 42

Interlude: when you go to downtown Auburn, be sure to stop in at Bananas Antiques. They’re friendly, they have a variety of interesting goods, and you simply must see all the bananas. They have more types of bananas than Bubba Gump’s had types of shrimp.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 43

Many store owners in Auburn decorate their storefronts for Veterans Day. Some include heartfelt tributes to service members such as these.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 44

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 45

In conclusion, I return to the large American flag that was being carried down the street by both vets and civilians. Gerald Stanley Lee said, “America is a tune. It must be sung together.” What that flag represents, this nation, does need to be carried by all of us. The veterans can’t do it alone; we can’t do it without the veterans.

Let’s hope we have the fortitude to preserve our nation for future generations, taking a stand against the forces that threaten to divide and destroy us, foreign and domestic.

Auburn Veterans Day Parade 2014 22


The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him. -G. K. Chesterton


©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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From http://www.youtube.com/user/HyperPixelsMedia

Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. –C.S. Lewis

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To my Scottish brethren who are scattered all over the world– Happy St. Andrew’s Day! Alba gu bràth!

Scottish Flag

St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and every November 30th is St. Andrew’s Day. Scotland.org has a fantastic website about this important day. They even have this Saltire Yourself app. A saltire is a diagonal cross, also called St. Andrew’s Cross, which is the basis for the Scottish flag. (more…)

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Keep the Cup 2

Get your crimson and gray on! Today is the 106th Apple Cup. For those outside of the Pacific Northwest, the Apple Cup is the annual football game between the two biggest universities in Washington.

On one side we have the Washington State University Cougars and on the other the University of Washington Huskies. The Cougars come from the more rural and conservative side of the state and the Huskies hail from an urban, more liberal environment. (more…)

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Having to cancel some other plans for today turned into a blessing– I was able to attend the 64th Annual Veterans Day Memorial Celebration at Evergreen Washelli’s Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery.

Evergreen Washelli and their volunteers did an amazing job hosting this event. For starters, there were employees in maze of roadways directing parking. It could have been chaos without them. As I met up with some people close to the staging area, total strangers were chatting with one another and offering to help each other out. (more…)

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The City of Auburn, Washington holds an annual Veterans Day parade that is one of the largest in the United States.

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending this annual gala. It was fantastic to be with other people who, in spite of our strong opinions on whether or not American military personnel should fight in foreign conflicts, were there to thank our veterans for putting their lives on the line so we can be free. (more…)

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Click picture to go to the Blackfish movie site

Click picture to go to the Blackfish movie site

Tonight, October 24th, 2013, on CNN at 6 P.M. Pacific is a documentary on captive orca whales that you won’t want to miss. Howard Garrett of the Orca Network, is also going to be interviewed on CNN today. (more…)

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DV 3

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when pink ribbons and bracelets are everywhere because one in eight women will fight breast cancer in her lifetime. But October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, signified by the color purple, acknowledging that one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence. Given the narcissism and lack of respect for others that is prevalent in our society, I’ll bet the rates are higher than that. (more…)

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