On February 1, 2003, I was working at Walmart* in Bloomington when I heard about the ill-fated landing attempt of Columbia. I was shocked. I couldn’t work, I just sat in the loading dock listening to National Public Radio tell the tale of seven astronauts who spent 16 days in space, only to be lost in the landing. I was left alone, no one else was around. I demanded the flag be flown at half-staff. I don’t know if they actually did or not. I bought a spool of black ribbon and a pack of safety pins. I made black ribbons in memory of the crew. I wore a black band around my arm for the rest of the day. Whilst walking through the aisles of Walmart* working, I saw a woman of Indian descent with a birthmark around her eye. I believe that was Chawla and crew letting me know they were going to be okay. Ethereally. And they thanked me for my patronage to the NASA program. I don’t know how else to describe how I felt.
I now have a peacock with seven feathers on my arm in tribute to the Space Shuttle Columbia and her final crew.