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Caregivers All

Every national tragedy we face comes fully equipped with its own ghastly and searing visuals. The Challenger explosion in 1986 is indelibly etched in many of our minds by the twin rocket spirals caused by an explosion upon ascent, as is the twin towers crumbling one by one in New York on September 11th and just this past weekend, the multiple spirals of the Columbia’s breakup upon its descent over the Texas plains.

But for me, even with the mind numbing repetition of the Columbia’s demise playing out across broadcast, cable, print and web, I will not remember this tragedy by these haunting visuals. Rather, what I will forever remember are the interviews with the family members of the crew. Within hours of the event, Commander Willie McCool’s mother was facing the cameras, stoically talking about her son and supporting his life’s work at NASA. The next day, she, her husband and grandchild were talking with Today Show anchor, Katie Couric.

All of them were working hard at putting our collective grief ahead of their own. And over the past few days, more and more of the crew member’s family and friends have come forward to share themselves with the American public. Even though these were people with loved ones whose deaths were swift and unexpected, they all truly personify the strength and spirit of family caregivers everywhere and offer us a glimpse into what kind of people their loved ones were.



Gary Barg

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