I was deeply moved to learn this morning that Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut killed on the Columbia this morning, had taken into space with him a drawing made by a child in a Nazi concentration camp. It was the child’s conception of what Earth looks like from the moon. That drawing survived the Holocaust and its aftermath, and was kept in Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial site. Now it has perished, along with Ramon and six others, on its way back from space.
Think about that drawing: that Jewish child lived in a death camp, yet he was still able to dream of space, and these dreams no doubt brought that child some small measure of comfort in a world overwhelmed by tragedy, suffering and loss. My own son Matthew, who is three, told his grandmother on the phone this morning, almost cheerfully, “The space shuttle Columbia blew up, but that’s okay, because they’re going to build another one.” He’s on the floor now playing with some kind of foam lawn dart he’s turned into a rocket. “Five, four, three, two, one…blast off!” he keeps saying. Even this morning, he’s still going on, as he has been for the past couple of months (when he first became obsessed with Neil Armstrong) about how he wants to be an astronaut.
Kids and their deathless dreams. God bless them.