For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
February 6, 2003
Remarks by the Vice President at Ceremony Dedicated to the Crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia
February 6, 2003
REMARKS BY THE VICE PRESIDENT
AT CEREMONY DEDICATED TO THE
CREW OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA
The National Cathedral
10:48 A.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We are here today to honor the memory of seven
lost explorers, to mourn seven good men and women, and to offer the
respects of a grateful nation.
Saturday morning brought terrible news to all Americans; and the
flag of our country was lowered to half-staff in honor of our fallen
Columbia astronauts. They were soldiers and scientists, doctors and
pilots -- but, above all, they were explorers. Each of them followed
his or her own path to the space program. Each led a life of high
purpose and high achievement.
The crew of the Columbia was united not by faith or heritage, but
by the calling they answered and shared. They were bound together in
the great cause of discovery. They were envoys to the unknown. They
advanced human understanding by showing human courage.
The men and women aboard the Columbia were driven by a fierce
determination to make life better here on earth by unlocking the
mysteries of space. Their 16-day, six-million mile mission was devoted
to research, and they worked 24 hours a day in alternating shifts on
experiments in the physical sciences, the life sciences, and the space
Every great act of exploration involves great risk. The crew of
the Columbia accepted that risk in service to all mankind. The
Columbia is lost, but the dreams that inspired its crew remain with
us. Those dreams are carried by the families of the astronauts who,
even in grief, have urged that America go on with our space program.
"The legacy of Columbia must carry on," they tell us, "for the benefit
of our children -- and yours."
Those dreams are carried by the dedicated men and women of NASA,
who -- time and time again -- have achieved the seemingly impossible
and whose strength and skill will return us to space. And the dreams
of the Columbia crew will continue to inspire America. We are a nation
of pioneers and immigrants, of bold explorers and discoverers, and we
have invited kindred souls from many nations to join us in the greatest
of all voyages. In doing so, we honor the heritage of our country and
help shape the future of all mankind.
Two generations ago, the United States embarked on a course of
space exploration. Today, despite this tragedy, we remain on that
course. And while many memorials will be built to honor Columbia's
crew, their greatest memorial will be a vibrant space program with new
missions carried out by a new generation of brave explorers.
America and all the world will always remember the first flight of
the Columbia in 1981. And we will never forget the men and women of
her final voyage: Willie McCool, Kalpana Chawla, Ilan Ramon, Michael
Anderson, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Rick Husband.
May a merciful God receive these seven souls. May He comfort their
families. May He help our nation to bear this heavy loss. And may He
guide us forward in exploring His creation.
END 10:52 A.M. EST