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Poem on the Space Shuttle Columbia Crash

One of the many letters Weekend Edition Sunday received came from a teenager who wrote:

Hi, I'm Jessi Hall, 16, from Jamestown, Ohio, a small town near Dayton, Ohio. This morning I was on my way back home from a music competition and mom turned the radio to NPR. We heard the middle of an interview with someone who had seen something tragic. When we heard it was the shuttle Columbia, it was like a blow. When we got home, I sat down at the computer and wrote a poem about my experience and reaction to the news.

sitting in the car talking to my mom

i heard the man say 'debris'

i thought of the Columbia but I wanted to be sure

he said the trail was purple

and too wide to be one piece we hung on his every word

it seemed to me an eternity

had passed before we knew that the crew of seven

on their way back to family

had been left in space amidst the stars to sleep

oh starry skies will keep them safe

but what of us down here

tears are shed for those who stay

in orbit 'round reality

oh starry skies will hide the fear

of all there is to come

grief is felt for those who say

"you see that bright star winking at us now,

that bright star is my dad"

"you see that star that sped along the sea,

that shooting star is my mom"

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Liane Hansen
Liane Hansen has been the host of NPR's award-winning Weekend Edition Sunday for 20 years. She brings to her position an extensive background in broadcast journalism, including work as a radio producer, reporter, and on-air host at both the local and national level. The program has covered such breaking news stories as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, Jr., and the Columbia shuttle tragedy. In 2004, Liane was granted an exclusive interview with former weapons inspector David Kay prior to his report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The show also won the James Beard award for best radio program on food for a report on SPAM.