The Free Lance-Star Photography Department shares the stories behind the photos.

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Where were you?

The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after lifting off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 1986. All seven crew members died in the explosion, which was blamed on faulty o-rings in the shuttle's booster rockets. The Challenger's crew was honored with burials at Arlington National Cemetery. (AP Photo/Bruce Weaver)

I was an 11th-grader at Menchville High School in Newport News, VA when it happened. My friends and I  were having a snowball fight in the front yard of Molly’s house. There was no school that day because of the weather.

What I can’t remember is how we learned about the shuttle disaster. I’m not sure if we went inside Molly’s house to get warm or if someone inside called out to let us know what had just happened.

What I do know is that the images on the tv stopped us all in our tracks. My rambunctious friends and I went from silly to silently serious in mere seconds.

It was the first time in my young life when something outside of my own orbit broke my heart and connected me to all people who shared in my disbelief and sadness.

In remembering that tragic day 25 years ago, feel free to share your memories with us and those around you. History is better told by those who lived it.

~ Dave Ellis

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