As NASA continues its work, today the nation took time to mourn the lives of the seven heroes who died in the skies above Texas on Saturday.
In Houston, families of the Columbia crew gathered at the Johnson Space Center to pay tribute to their lost loved ones and here in Lubbock, there was a local Memorial to Columbia at Texas Tech University.
The memorial service was organized by the City of Lubbock, Texas Tech, and the Lubbock Independent School District. It was held at Texas Tech's Allen Theatre this afternoon. It was a tribute to all seven crew members, but gave special recognition to the two crew members with Lubbock ties we've all come to know so affectionately in the last few days.
Before a crowd of more than 100 people, the Texas Tech University Choir lifted their voices in to honor the seven heroes on board the ill-fated final mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia.
"Willie's not dead. His spirit is active," said William McCool's former Coronado High School Chemistry teacher Ed Jarman.
Lubbock paid tribute to the brave explorers, while giving special recognition to Tech graduate and Columbia Commander Rick Husband and Coronado H.S. graduate and Columbia Pilot Willie McCool.
McCool's high school buddy, Dale Somers, attended the shuttle launch on January 16th and says Willie was as cool as his name. "He was friends with the athletes, and he was friends with the chess club. There wasn't a clique big enough to hold Willie," says Somers.
Texas Tech Engineering Professor James Lawrence says Rick Husband always had his dreams in the stars. "I remember that he always had his eyes on a point slightly more above the horizon than I or most others," says Lawrence.
Texas Tech Chancellor Dr. David Smith says the astronauts embarked on a daring journey and all of our lives are richer because of their heroism. At a national memorial service in Houston today, President Bush said the same of the fearless trailblazers who were bold enough to imagine new frontiers and the risks associated with bold exploration.