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Date Released: Tuesday, February 3, 2004
Source: NASA HQ
Remarks by Sean O'Keefe, STS-107 Crew Memorial Ceremony, Arlington National Cemetery

Remarks by the Honorable Sean O'Keefe
NASA Administrator
STS-107 Crew Memorial Ceremony
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia
February 2, 2004

Today we remember and commemorate the undaunted courage of seven true heroes for our time, and for all times, our Columbia STS-107 astronauts.

This setting, Arlington National Cemetery, is a special place for many reasons. To be certain it honors men and women who have performed extraordinary acts of bravery on the field of battle.

Buried at Arlington are veterans who served the cause of freedom in every conflict from the Revolutionary War to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Arlington National Cemetery also provides a final resting place for great heroes who changed the course of history by blazing new trails of exploration and discovery.

Among those honored at Arlington are such legends of exploration as John Wesley Powell, the first man to explore the Grand Canyon, Admiral Richard Byrd, the first to fly over both poles, and the discoverers of the North Pole, Robert E. Peary and Matthew Hensen.

Resting here at Arlington is also the President who boldly set our course to the stars, John F. Kennedy.

From the Kennedy gravesite one can gaze across the river toward our citadels of democracy and recall those stirring last words from his inaugural address, "Whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."

The hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery honors many NASA astronauts who took up the President's call to lead our way into the new frontier of space, including members of the Apollo One, Challenger and Columbia crews.

Of course, wherever our astronauts are laid to rest is special ground.

Today, the people of a grateful nation add their respects to the seven members of our beloved STS-107 crew here at Arlington National Cemetery. It was made possible by the prompt, responsive action of Congress to authorize this fitting memorial, led by so many here in attendance today. I particularly want to thank Jack Metzler, Superintendent of the Arlington National Cemetery, for the great care and sensitivity in developing this tribute to the Columbia Crew.

Through the memorial we dedicate today, visitors to Arlington will learn that these space heroes came from all parts of the United States, and from India and Israel.

They were pilots, engineers and scientists, all motivated by a fire within, a passionate eternal flame within each of their souls that compelled them to live lives of distinction, and to bring the heavens ever closer to our grasp.

They bonded as a group while training in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming and came to cherish the view of a globe without borders as they orbited our fragile home in space.

They delighted in working together to advance important scientific research that will help better all our lives.

They proved that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

Fitting memorials also come in all shapes and sizes. Last month President Bush said a living memorial to the Columbia astronauts' legacy will be our new focus and vision for space exploration that will take human explorers back to the moon and then on to other worlds beyond our own. Just days after the tragedy the President observed "Exploration is not an option we choose, it is a desire written in the human heart. We are that part of creation which seeks to understand all creation. We find the best among us, send them forth into unmapped darkness, and pray they will return. They go in peace for all mankind, and all mankind is in their debt." And now the President has given us a renewed commitment to this quest to explore.

As the President said, just two weeks ago, we do not know where the journey begun by all of our intrepid astronauts will end, yet we know that human beings are headed into the cosmos. Our task will be to pursue this goal with renewed diligence and in the memory of these heroic souls.

Generations from now, when the reach of human civilization is extended throughout the solar system, people will still come to this place to learn about and pay their respects to our heroic Columbia astronauts. They will look at the astronauts' memorial and then they will turn their gaze to the skies, their hearts filled with gratitude for these seven brave explorers who helped blaze our trail to the stars.

I thank every one here with us today, and those watching from afar, for participating in this heartfelt tribute to the heroic Space Shuttle Columbia crew members: Rick Husband, William McCool, Mike Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon. May God bless the crew of STS-107.


NASA dedicates Columbia memorial at national cemetery

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe on Monday dedicated a memorial to the crew of space shuttle Columbia at Arlington National Cemetery, eulogizing the astronauts as "pilots, engineers and scientists all motivated by a fire within."

More than 400 Columbia family members, former astronauts and NASA staff attended the dedication, which took place a year and a day after the ship disintegrated on its return to earth, claiming the lives of all seven astronauts.

The memorial features a bronze replica of a mission patch designed by crew members. The names of the Columbia astronauts -- Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon -- are etched into the bronze, which is set on Vermont marble.

"They were pilots, engineers and scientists all motivated by a fire within, a passionate eternal flame within each of their souls that compelled them to live lives of distinction and bring the heavens ever closer to our grasp," O'Keefe said.

He said the crew's legacy would live on in President Bush's call to renew missions to the moon and begin human exploration on Mars.

"Our task will be to pursue this goal with renewed diligence in the memory of these heroic souls," O'Keefe said.

The graves of 29 astronauts -- including Anderson, Brown and Clark from the Columbia shuttle -- also are in the national cemetery in Arlington, Va. The memorial is located near a monument to the shuttle Challenger, which fell apart on its ascent on January 28, 1986.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida, also attended the service.

Patti LaBalle performed "Way Up There," the Grammy-nominated song NASA commissioned last year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight.

Congress allocated $500,000 for the monument in the Columbia Orbiter Memorial Act, which President Bush signed into law last April.



Monument to Columbia Crew Dedicated
By Josh White, Washington Post Staff Writer
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Evelyn Husband stood on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery three years ago when her young daughter wanted to see the memorial for those lost aboard the space shuttle Challenger. The wife of an astronaut, Husband looked at the stone and bronze tablet and prayed that she would never be back.

Yesterday, in a private ceremony beneath a tent on the very same spot, NASA officials dedicated a similar monument to Rick D. Husband and the six other crew members of the shuttle Columbia. One year and one day from the shuttle's explosion over the piney woods of East Texas, Evelyn Husband was at Arlington again, this time to fix her loved one's name in history.

"I never expected it would be us," she said. "But Arlington is very much considered a place of honor, and I feel honored by it."

It was a somber but optimistic event, during which officials spoke of the sacrifices the seven astronauts made for their country. Officials talked about the diversity of the group -- which included Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon and the first Indian-born female astronaut, Kalpana Chawla -- and their ability to collaborate as co-workers and friends. They also spoke of a new dedication to pushing farther into space to continue the astronauts' work.

Calling the cemetery "a final resting place for great heroes who changed the course of history by blazing new trails of exploration and discovery," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said the entire space community has been mourning the loss of the astronauts since their shuttle broke up February 1, 2003. He said their work should motivate everyone.

"They were pilots, engineers and scientists, all motivated by a fire within, a passionate eternal flame within each of their souls that compelled them to live lives of distinction and to bring the heavens ever closer to our grasp," O'Keefe said. "They delighted in working together to advance scientific research that will help all of our lives. They proved that heroes come in all shapes and all sizes."

A small group of family and friends huddled to see the unveiling of the Columbia monument next to NASA's two other memorials at Arlington, where two blocks of stone are dedicated to Challenger and Apollo I. The new monument, which has the Columbia mission's patch etched in bronze on Vermont marble, will be open to the public today.

Yesterday's ceremony was closed; it was broadcast by NASA television. A military band and chorus played for the first 15 minutes of the ceremony, and Patti LaBelle sang her Grammy-nominated song "Way Up There" toward the end of the event.

The ceremony marked the end of an emotional month for those the astronauts left behind, as some attended funerals at Arlington in early January and were present at the Super Bowl in Houston on Sunday for a public remembrance before kickoff. It's also a trying time of year for NASA, because all three anniversaries of the program's spaceflight catastrophes fall within a week.

Columbia exploded as it was making its descent to Earth shortly after 9 a.m., leaving a trail of debris across a large swath of Texas and Louisiana. Investigators determined that a chunk of insulating foam that hit the underside of the shuttle's wing at liftoff Jan. 16, 2003, caused the damage that ultimately tore the shuttle apart.

In addition to Husband, Ramon and Chawla, Michael P. Anderson, Laurel B. Clark, David M. Brown and William C. McCool lost their lives.

Yesterday, O'Keefe called the astronauts "true heroes for our time and for all time." O'Keefe also mentioned President Bush's call for a "renewed commitment in our quest to explore" in dedication to those already lost in that journey.

"Generations from now, when the reach of human civilization is extended throughout the solar system, people will still come to this place to learn about and pay their respects to our heroic Columbia astronauts," O'Keefe said. "They will look at the astronauts' memorial and then they will turn their gaze to the skies, their hearts filled with gratitude for these seven brave explorers who helped blaze our trail to the stars."

Barbara Anderson and her husband came to Arlington from their home in Spokane, Wash., to help remember their son, Michael. She said in an earlier interview that she sees his sacrifice as part of a life of accomplishment.

"They gave their lives in search of something to better mankind," Barbara Anderson said. "People recognize that worldwide. People will be able to visit the memorial and tell their children and grandchildren what these astronauts did. Only good can come from it."

Husband said she wants people to see the memorial as a reminder of how the crew was so diverse yet so close. She said she received e-mails from her husband while he was in space, telling her about how much fun they were having and how much they enjoyed each other's company. He also raved about the different perspective of the Earth from afar and the incredible colors.

"I think it's a very fitting memorial for the crew," Husband said. NASA "worked hard to make this monument something we'd be blessed by."


NASA Dedicates Arlington Memorial to Columbia Crew

With flower leis, speeches and a piper playing "Amazing Grace," NASA and the families of the shuttle Columbia crew dedicated a memorial to the fallen astronauts on Monday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Under a white tent, an honor guard of astronauts unveiled a stone monument with a bronze plaque bearing the symbol of Columbia's last mission, the names of the seven crew members, and the inscription, "In memory of the crew of United States Space Shuttle Columbia, 1 February 2003."

The ceremony came a year and a day after Columbia disintegrated over Texas. The head of the space agency and other NASA officials gathered with the families of the dead for the memorial, which was broadcast live on NASA television.

"Today we remember and commemorate the undaunted courage of seven true heroes for our time and for all time," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said of the Columbia crew.

"They were pilots, engineers and scientists, all motivated by a fire within, a passionate eternal flame that burned in their souls, that compelled them to live lives of distinction and to bring the heavens ever closer to our grasp," O'Keefe said.

The ceremony was attended by families of the Columbia crew: Rick Husband, commander; William McCool, pilot; Michael Anderson, payload commander; David Brown, mission specialist; Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; Laurel Blair Salton Clark, mission specialist, and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist and the first Israeli astronaut.

O'Keefe said the living memorial to the Columbia astronauts was President Bush's "vision for space exploration" that was announced last month, which aims to send Americans back to the moon by 2020 and eventually on to Mars.

"Generations from now when the reach of human civilization is extended throughout our solar system, people will still come to this place to learn, to pay their respects to our heroic Columbia astronauts," O'Keefe said.

After speeches by O'Keefe and others, prayers by military chaplains, hymns sung by the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants and a performance by singer Patti LaBelle, mourners walked by the new monument, some draping flower leis over the stone, others plucking white roses from a nearby wreath as mementos.

At the end of the ceremony, a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace."

The Columbia memorial is a not far from a monument honoring the seven crew members who died aboard shuttle Challenger in 1986. Astronauts who died in the 1967 Apollo 1 fire are also buried at Arlington, O'Keefe said.

All three crews were honored last Thursday at what O'Keefe said he expected would be an annual day of remembrance for fallen astronauts.

The three crews were also honored on Mars, where NASA's robotic Spirit rover's landing site was named the Columbia Memorial Station, the rover Opportunity's landing site was named the Challenger Memorial Station, and three hills visible from the Spirit's site were named for the three members of the Apollo 1 crew.

The remaining three space shuttles have been grounded since the Columbia accident. The earliest possible return to shuttle flight is this September.


NASA Dedicates Columbia Memorial
Courtesy of the Associated Press

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe on Monday dedicated a memorial to the crew of space shuttle Columbia at Arlington National Cemetery, eulogizing the astronauts as "pilots, engineers and scientists all motivated by a fire within."

More than 400 Columbia family members, former astronauts and NASA staff attended the dedication, which took place a year and a day after the ship disintegrated on its return to earth, claiming the lives of all seven astronauts.

The memorial features a bronze replica of a mission patch designed by crew members. The names of the Columbia astronauts Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon are etched into the bronze, which is set on Vermont marble.

"They were pilots, engineers and scientists all motivated by a fire within, a passionate eternal flame within each of their souls that compelled them to live lives of distinction and bring the heavens ever closer to our grasp," O'Keefe said.

He said the crew's legacy would live on in President Bush's call to renew missions to the moon and begin human exploration on Mars.

"Our task will be to pursue this goal with renewed diligence in the memory of these heroic souls," O'Keefe said.

The graves of 29 astronauts including Anderson, Brown and Clark from the Columbia shuttle also are in the national cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The memorial is located near a monument to the shuttle Challenger, which fell apart on its ascent on January 28, 1986.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, also attended the service.

Patti LaBalle performed "Way Up There," the Grammy-nominated song NASA commissioned last year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight.

Congress allocated $500,000 for the monument in the Columbia Orbiter Memorial Act, which President Bush signed into law last April.


NASA dedicates Columbia memorial at national cemetery
 Courtesy of the Associated Press

Sean O'Keefe, NASA administrator: Future generations will remember the Columbia crew

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe on Monday dedicated a memorial to the crew of space shuttle Columbia at Arlington National Cemetery, eulogizing the astronauts as "pilots, engineers and scientists all motivated by a fire within."

More than 400 Columbia family members, former astronauts and NASA staff attended the dedication, which took place a year and a day after the ship disintegrated on its return to earth, claiming the lives of all seven astronauts.

The memorial features a bronze replica of a mission patch designed by crew members. The names of the Columbia astronauts - Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon - are etched into the bronze, which is set on Vermont marble.

"They were pilots, engineers and scientists all motivated by a fire within, a passionate eternal flame within each of their souls that compelled them to live lives of distinction and bring the heavens ever closer to our grasp," O'Keefe said.

He said the crew's legacy would live on in President Bush's call to renew missions to the moon and begin human exploration on Mars.

"Our task will be to pursue this goal with renewed diligence in the memory of these heroic souls," O'Keefe said.

The graves of 29 astronauts - including Anderson, Brown and Clark from the Columbia shuttle - also are in the national cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The memorial is located near a monument to the shuttle Challenger, which fell apart on its ascent on January 28, 1986.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, also attended the service.

Patti LaBalle performed "Way Up There," the Grammy-nominated song NASA commissioned last year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight.

Congress allocated $500,000 for the monument in the Columbia Orbiter Memorial Act, which President Bush signed into law last April.


Shuttle Columbia Memorial Dedicated PHOTO
Mrs. Sandy Anderson, widow of Space Shuttle Columbia Astronaut Michael Anderson, looks at the
memorial for the crew of Columbia along with Astronaut Steve Robinson (R) and Astronaut Carlos Noriega,
February 2, 2004 at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington. They were looking at the monument just after NASA
Administrator Sean O'Keefe dedicated the memorial for the crew of Columbia, who perished when the craft broke up on reentry from space on February 1, 2003.

Shuttle Columbia Memorial Dedicated PHOTO
 Those closest to the Columbia crew members who died a year ago file past the memorial
after a private dedication at Arlington National Cemetery.

Shuttle Columbia Memorial Dedicated PHOTO
The new memorial to the crew of space shuttle Columbia, right, at Arlington National Cemetery
Tuesday, February 3, 2004. The new memorial, featuring a bronze replica of a mission patch designed by
crew members, was dedicated in a closed ceremony Monday, a year and a day after the ship disintegrated on
its return to earth, claiming the lives of all seven astronauts. At left, is the memorial to the Space Shuttle
Challenger. At center is a memorial to members of the armed forces lost during the 1980 Iran hostage crisis

Shuttle Columbia Memorial Dedicated PHOTO
A new memorial to the crew of space shuttle Columbia is seen at Arlington National Cemetery
Tuesday, February 3, 2004. The memorial, featuring a bronze replica of a mission patch designed by
crew members, was dedicated in a closed ceremony Monday, a year and a day after the ship
disintegrated on its return to earth, claiming the lives of all seven astronauts.
The cemetery's Memorial Amphitheater is at left

Shuttle Columbia Memorial Dedicated PHOTO
  The new memorial, featuring a bronze replica of a mission patch designed by crew members, was
dedicated in a closed ceremony Monday, a year and a day after the ship disintegrated on its return to earth,
claiming the lives of all seven astronauts. At center is a memorial to members of the armed forces lost
during the 1980 Iran hostage crisis.
 

Shuttle Columbia Memorial Dedicated PHOTO
A new memorial to the crew of space shuttle Columbia is seen at Arlington National Cemetery
Tuesday, February 3, 2004. The memorial, featuring a bronze replica of a mission patch designed by
crew members, was dedicated in a closed ceremony Monday, a year and a day after the ship disintegrated
on its return to earth, claiming the lives of all seven astronauts. The cemetery's Memorial Amphitheater is at rear.

POSTED: 3 February 2004