Family, Friends Remember Columbia Crew

In Racine, Wis., where astronaut Laurel Clark went to high school, the flag was lowered to half-staff Sunday morning, a wreath of flowers lay at the foot of the flag pole, and someone pulled up with a trumpet — and played "Taps."

"It's just to play for the memory of these people that have died," said military veteran Jay Schievenes, before driving off in his car.

Beth Conley dropped off the flowers.

"You just think it's a world away and it's not. It's not. We're very close," she said.

Jody Zarowski was a classmate of Clark's. "She's got an 8-year-old little boy who's not going to see his mother any more," she said. "And that is so sad for him."

In small towns and big cities, in this country and abroad, people reflected on the space mission and the exceptional men and women who risk their lives miles and miles into the sky.

A Lifelong Dream

In Amarillo, Texas, friends of shuttle commander Rick Husband recalled how he wanted to be an astronaut since the age of 5 and how he minimized the threat to his life inherent in his career choice.

"Rick and all the other astronauts always downplayed that. They were always positive," said Larry Lemons, a friend of Husband's. "That was not something to consider."

In Oklahoma City, the grief-stricken sister of payload commander Mike Anderson, Joanne, said her brother had struggled hard to reach the pinnacle.

"Only in America could he have achieved what he did achieve," she said.

Almost 6,800 miles to the east, Israeli television was carrying the shuttle re-entry live to a nation transfixed by this mission. In the unremitting darkness of the conflict in Israel, the flight of Col. Ilan Ramon provided some light.

His elderly father was on television live at the time that his son disappeared into the blue skies over Texas. "I never expected this," he said.

Mourning the Loss

About 100 miles north of New Delhi, people from the village of Karnal, India, mourned the loss of mission specialist Kalpana Chawla. She is a naturalized American citizen who grew up in India, where much of her family still lives.

"If you are in the army or air force or any such field, you should be ready to receive such news," said her brother Sanjay.

Outside Washington, D.C., the family of Navy Capt. David Brown treasured a message they received from him back on Jan. 16 — when the shuttle took off.

"Mom and Dad, it's Dave," the recording said, "It's launch morning. I'm on the launch pad right outside the shuttle.

"It's just beautiful here. We're going to have a great trip to space. I love you guys."