A newspaper headline made for a brighter week

Ellen Emery

On a Saturday morning news program, I heard a quote I wanted to share in this column.

As I listened, I copied it on a notepad nearby.

As I saw the quotation and began to visit with you through this column, I knew that this quote took on meaning as the story behind it was told.

This week, I will begin the column with a quotation — and the story that gives it meaning.

Earlier this month, a monument was dedicated in Arlington National Cemetery commemorating the three astronauts who died in the first tragic space accident.

The crew of Apollo 1 — astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White II and Roger Chaffee — died on Jan. 27, 1967.

I don’t remember hearing about this tragedy until the announcement made recently about the monument dedication.

There had been monuments for other astronauts who had died on missions, but until now none to those first three.

I learned the three astronauts were killed in a fire in the Apollo command module during a preflight test at Cape Canaveral.

Three hours into the test flight, a fire swept through the command module, trapping and killing the astronauts.

There are monuments to the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia missions who also lost their lives during service, but none to the loss of Apollo 1.

Jamie Draper, director of the Air Force Space and Missile Museum, said lessons learned from Apollo 1 contributed to the success of future space missions.

“Without their sacrifice,” he said of that first Apollo 1 crew, “we would not have made it to the moon.”

I was pleased to learn a monument was dedicated to honor these three.

But what drew me to this news story was the quotation the families of the three astronauts had requested on the monument.

The families had asked that a Latin motto be carved into the stone.

This motto translates, “A rough road leads to the stars.”

As my thoughts turned to the recent news events of the day and the pandemic, the words of that motto seemed truly appropriate.

Let’s remember the lives of the three astronauts today and remember the message of perseverance that sustained future astronauts as they have continued to journey into space and to the moon.

Have hope as you remember the marvelous quotation shared, “A rough road leads to the stars.”

WITH THANKS

My thanks this week to Walmart associate Ron, who was so helpful when I could not find a simple picture frame last week.

I hated to bother him; he seemed quite intent on what he was doing. But when I asked where I could find a picture frame (I was in the area they had been a few years ago!), he was ready to help immediately.

“Follow me,” he said so cheerily. I apologized for my interruption.

He assured me it was not a problem at all — he walked to the front of the store and took me directly to the aisle I needed.

I found not one but two frames.

My heartfelt thanks to Ron. What a joy it is to shop locally with such kind, helpful associates always there to lend a helping hand.

BIRD FAMILY UPDATE

Last week, the baby birds left their nest by our back door.

They had grown to almost the same size as their parents.

I honestly don’t know how four birds lived in that tiny nest with a parent bird on the edge feeding them.

On Saturday, a bird returned to the nest throughout the day.

I enjoy watching the wildlife around our home but am definitely not a “birder”!

Perhaps there is a birder in the readership of this column (it was a column reader who initially told me the nesting birds near our back door were phoebes — and for that I have always been grateful!) who could tell me if the returning eastern phoebe was the mother preparing for her next brood or a lost young one wanting to stay in the nest just a bit longer.

CHESS PLAYING THROUGH THE MAIL

A few weeks ago, I rediscovered a box filled with letters my parents received in the early 1940s.

All of the letters are handwritten and detail the lives of a neighbor of theirs and my grandmother.

My goal is to read each one before sending them to family members.

This week, I found the most wonderful letters written by a then-teenaged boy.

His family members were neighbors of my parents and were dear friends.

The letters detail the school life of this young boy and his descriptions of life at home.

What I found fascinating with his letters, though, were a few sheets that detail an entire chess board and moves that he might take — or what my father might take.

I knew my father played chess but never realized they played the game through the mail.

There is even a penny postcard with the moves from the young man explained. Amazing!

As I read the letters complete with chess moves, I could see The Gardener across the room with an iPad in hand playing games with our sons.

I wonder how many reading today have written a letter this week — a handwritten letter not a texted message (although those are fun to receive, too) or even an email — but a pen in hand letter.

And of those of you who have written a letter, how many actually shared moves in a chess game through an inked diagram across the page?

I can’t even imagine!

HAPPY WEDNESDAY

T.J. Holmes, the host of an afternoon news program, opened the program on Monday afternoon by saying “Happy Monday.”

His co-anchors were completely upset by that term.

He explained that it was a new week, a new day and we should be “Happy” because it was a Monday!

I agree. We have welcomed spring with the phrase “Happy Spring.” We celebrate a birthday with “Happy Birthday.” Certainly, each new day should be celebrated!

It is a good thing that we are here to welcome a new day.

Let me be the first to wish you a “Happy Wednesday”!

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“The more generous you are, the more joyous we become.”

— William Arthur Ward

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