Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Memorial Ceremony for Lieutenant Colonel Michael Anderson
March 11, 2003
My friends and fellow citizens:
Last month a terrible tragedy seared itself across the dawn skies and into our memories. And in those blinding, impossible, unfathomable moments, seven brave and selfless souls—seven heroes—were taken from us.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Anderson was one of those heroes. We gather today to mourn his loss, to honor his memory, and to pay tribute to his life. From the bottom of our hearts,
Mona and I, indeed our entire state, extend our profound condolences and deepest sympathy to his wife, Sandra; his two daughters, Sidney and Kaycee; his parents Bobby and Barbara Anderson; his sisters Joanne, Brenda and Diane; Sandra’s parents Henry and Maebel Hawkins, Sandra’s sister Rhonda, the rest of Michael’s family and his many friends.
Since the early light of other dawns, eons and eons ago, we mortals have been drawn to the heavens. And since the ancient myth of Icarus, who fashioned wings of feather and wax, and fell to the Earth after flying too close to the sun.
We have sometimes paid the ultimate price for our dreams.
Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, kids like me were mesmerized by visions of astronauts flying high above the Earth, into outer space. We were thrilled by John Kennedy’s brave challenge that America land a man on the moon—and return him safely by the end of the decade. And we did!
Alan Shepard and John Glenn were the courageous icons of a nation that was reaching for the stars.
Through Mercury and Gemini and Apollo, we saw our wildest dreams quite literally come true.
With awestruck wonder we watched Neil Armstrong take one giant leap for mankind upon the lunar landscape. Then with incredible hope and secret dread we witnessed the mortal struggle of Apollo 13 one year later. Nearly lost, yet miraculously surviving to return safely home.
The irrepressible spirit of those brave souls filled us with solemn determination—the determination that we could do almost anything if we believed, if we never gave up.
We have been painfully and jarringly reminded that this determination has a cost.
We have lost a favorite son.
Michael brought glory and honor to our state, to his community, and to his hometown. He was as proud of his roots, as we were of him.
He was a role model for every child with a dream, his life an eloquent statement about the American Dream. He shared his love of science and space with students, returning, for example, from his first space mission in 1998 to visit several Spokane-area schools.
He believed in returning to his alma maters, Cheney High School and the University of Washington, to always try to give something back.
Michael was on a fast track in one of the most demanding professions on earth. But he was never too busy to give something back to students, back to the children, back to kids who all dream of doing great things. He was charismatic, convincing proof that they could do great things.
Michael Anderson was also a role model for African Americans. He earned his way into NASA and the space program. There were no black astronauts when Michael was growing up and finding his calling in life. He was among the pioneers. He proved that it not only could be done, it could be done very well. In so doing, he made the road a little easier for those who will follow.
And Michael Anderson was a role model for all of us as citizens and human beings. He believed in family, church and community. Even as he reached for the stars, he was always solidly grounded in life on earth and love—love of his family, love of God, and love of his hometown Spokane and his home state of Washington. In the most profound sense, he understood where he came from and what made him who he was.
He dared to dream without boundaries, and blazed a trail across all boundaries. The sun has set on his life, but his lasting legacy blazes brightly on.
We are drawn to the heavens, to the unknown and the infinite, and our astronauts light the darkness. They live the dream so that we may continue to dream.
Michael Anderson was one of those few, daring souls, leading the way with remarkable courage, intelligence, and an irrepressible spirit.
We honor his life and sacrifice best by heeding that spirit and carrying the bright light of his life’s work forward.
He was an inspiration to us all. Our shadows are cast in a colder world without him.
Yet Michael Anderson’s irrepressible spirit remains, and draws us to the heavens even more. And there, in his cherished memory, we will continue to go.
God Bless his family, God Bless his soul, and God Bless all of those who give us hope and inspire us to dream.