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Remembering the crew of the space shuttle Columbia

Memorial Church, Cambridge, MA

I’d like to thank all the students who took the initiative to organize this memorial service. Being part of a university community, it has been said that we are part of the ivory tower. In many ways we are. We are also a community embedded in other communities. Today, it is our part to feel and to reflect on what has happened.

Lt. Colonel Michael Anderson

Commander David Brown

Dr. Kalpana Chawla

Commander Laurel Salton Clark

Colonel Rick Husband

Commander William McCool

Colonel Ilan Ramon

Seven people: men and women, officers in the military and scientists, citizens of this nation and other nations. Parents and partners, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. For them we grieve. For the loss of all that lay ahead of them as lovers and friends and contributors to our society, we grieve.

Their parents, their spouses, their children, and their friends are grieving for them. For we cannot help but know that a single explosion far above the earth changed the arc of so many lives here on earth.

We grieve. Occasions like this are occasions when we do more than grieve. But the crew of STS 107 would have wanted us to do more than just grieve.

And so we celebrate the accomplishments of those lost. We celebrate the courage of those lost. We live and move on. But we, who live in the community of the mind, must remember and honor the physical courage of those who risk their lives in search of truth.

We celebrate the vaulting ambition of those seven individuals who reached beyond the confines of this planet in search of truth. Even at this moment of tragedy, we honor and respect that enterprise.

We grieve, we celebrate, and we reflect.

We need to reflect on the significance of life, and meaning of life. We mourn and celebrate the accomplishments of those who risk their lives to expand the realm of truth.

And so we reflect on what we saw so clearly yesterday: that each of our existences could be wiped out in a single instance.

We reflect on how we are spending each day. We reflect on our commitment to those we love. We reflect on our commitment to those objectives most important to us.

As it has been said, “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It’s not something for which we wait, it is something we create.” That is the credo by which the men and women of STS 107 lived.

Our president made it clear yesterday that we will continue this great adventure in search of truth.

Let us all take the lessons from the lives of this distinguished group and make our own commitment to shape destiny.