July 5, 2011
I wasn’t sure what to expect on our visit to the small town of Hemphill, Texas; home of the “Remembering Columbia” Museum. I figured like most small Museums it would have pictures and posters and a few pieces of memorabilia here and there. At first glance that may be what you see. But the real treasure lies within the story.
I can not begin to do any of these stories justice, you have to visit the Museum and hear it told by the women who were there. They tell the story with such passion and love because it is a memory for them who lived it and saw it with their own eyes.
Anna, Adam, & Austin waiting for the doors to open.
My cousin, Belinda, Vice-President on the Museum’s Board of Directors, told me to give her a call when we arrived so that she could come up and personally give us the tour.
I expected to hear about facts and figures and plenty of things to fulfill the educational reason we came, but much to my surprise the very first thing we heard about was a scripture, Joshua 1:6-9.
“Chaplains were present as the remains were gathered, insuring a reverent and respectful process. Over Rick Husband’s remains the chaplain prayed and read scripture, from Joshua 1:6-9, which was remarkably the same text Rick quoted to Evelyn the night before the launch.” High Calling: The Courageous Life and Faith of Space Shuttle Commander Rick Husband, by Evelyn Husband, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003).
This scripture is engraved in a large stone right outside the entrance to the museum, it is their “motto” scripture. To begin a museum tour with the Word of God is not what I had expected at all but this was the beginning of a wonderful testimony of God and how He is with us in the worst of times, caring, loving and providing our needs before we even ask.
Of course there was museum displays. Belinda explained this little tile (in the plastic bag ) is the kind of tile that came off the shuttle at blast-off and it punched a hole about the size of a finger in the wing. The tile is basically Styrofoam, very light weight.
This is a replica of the wing material that the tile messed up. It is a pretty thick material, it isn’t steel, like we thought when we looked at it but it is really a sturdy looking material. Apparently the hole was just big enough to allow the heat to get in upon re-entry to the earths atmosphere and from there it tore the shuttle apart.
She explained where the astronauts stay during the voyage and where satellites would be kept before they are deployed.
There are NASA Kid’s Club computers for the kids to play games or learn on. They are working on grants for some other really cool interactive things, but I won’t say what until the grants come through.
There was a 15 minute documentary that was very interesting about the recovery
efforts. If you visit, take time to watch it, there was a story about a dog that was very moving.
The thing that moved me the most, was listening to Belinda praise God with her stories. She said that He provided everything they needed to feed and take care of the Recovery Teams for the entire time they were in Hemphill. Belinda was chosen to organize the meals for the teams. At first she was not sure how she could manage to get food to all of the people, so she turned to God and He basically told her, He has fed the multitude before, He can do it again. She said that she would make a mental note of what would be needed and in no time it was delivered, without her even asking, God provided. The love and the out pouring from the community was simply amazing, God moved on the hearts of His people to come together and supply the needs of others. I won’t even begin to try to retell the stories. I would not do them justice. I just suggest you go to the Museum and listen to her or one of the other ladies. It is a beautiful testimony.
Each Astronaut has a Memorial Case.
The items in the case was chosen by that person’s family members.
Rick Husband, mission commander.
Rick Husband was a very Godly man. I thought these two plaques were a beautiful display of his faith.
Laurel B. Clark, mission specialist.
Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist.
William C. McCool, pilot.
David M.Brown, mission specialist
Belinda said David had wrote this poem before he leaving on this mission, as if he knew he would soon see God.
Michael P. Anderson, mission specialist.
Ilan Ramon, payload specialist from the Israeli Space Agency
Ilan was Israel’s first Astronaut. He made this insignia, everything on here has meaning. If you can read the article it explains what each thing stands for.
Jules “Buzz” Mier Jr. (pilot) & Charles Krenek (Texas Forest Service )
Belinda said they always include these men in the memorial services because they gave the ultimate sacrifice also when the recovery helicopter went down due to mechanical problems.
Amazing things were recovered from the wreckage, such as: Rick Husband’s personal camera was recovered, memory chip still intact, this picture was the last picture on the card. They look so happy doing exactly what they loved and was called to do.
Belinda told us that this museum has some “unique items” only they have and that they are next in line to any other Columbia memorabilia, second only to the Smithsonian. I believe that this little museum is blessed because of the praise they rightfully give to God through it all. I know as I walked among the fallen astronauts cases, listening to the awesome things God did, I felt the Lord’s presence.
But thou art holy, thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. (Psalm 22:3 KJV)
~and all of His people~
So if you have a chance please stop by and visit the museum in Hemphill, TX, and expect to be blessed with stories of praise to God.
Visit their page on Facebook “Patricia Huffman Smith Museum Remembering Columbia STS-107”
and be sure and click “like” so you can keep up with upcoming events and new exhibits.