New York Times (1/18/1986)

After the Shock, a Need to Share Grief and Loss

The nation came together yesterday in a moment of disaster and loss. Wherever Americans were when they heard the news -- at work, at school or at home -- they shared their grief over the death of the seven astronauts, among them one who had captured their imaginations, Christa McAuliffe, the teacher from Concord, N.H., who was to have been the first ordinary citizen to go into space.

Shortly after noon, when the first word of the explosion came, daily events seemed to stop as people awaited the details and asked the same questions: "What happened? Are there any survivors?"

In offices, restaurants and stores, people gathered in front of television sets, mesmerized by the terrible scene of the shuttle exploding, a scene that would be replayed throughout the day and night. Children who had learned about Mrs. McAuliffe were watching in classrooms across the country.

It seemed to be one of those moments, enlarged and frozen, that people would remember and recount for the rest of their lives....

“It was like the Kennedy thing,” said John Hannan, who heard the news when his sister called him at his office…. “Everyone was numb.”…