Rep. Annie Kuster: Coin will help cement McAuliffe’s place in history

  • Christa McAuliffe tries out the commander’s seat on the flight deck of a shuttle simulator at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Sept. 13, 1985. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 10/13/2019 6:45:08 AM

Thirty three years ago, the world watched in horror as the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff, taking the lives of its seven crew members.

In New Hampshire, our grief was felt deep in our hearts as we mourned the loss of a beloved teacher who had dedicated her life to inspiring her students and helping young people discover the wonders of the universe.

Christa McAuliffe was a teacher at Concord High School, my alma mater. She was a smart, charming and kind educator who left her mark on countless students through her willingness to do whatever it took to help them succeed.

Christa wanted her students to seek out the best in themselves, and always reach a little higher. Inspired by her leadership and legacy, Christa’s students did just that – many went on to become teachers or pursue other careers in science and education.

This past week, I was proud to see the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act signed into law by the president. This law calls for the Department of Treasury to issue $1 silver coins in commemoration of Christa. They will be minted in 2021 to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Our Concord community and all Granite Staters were thrilled when Christa, out of 11,000 applicants, was selected as NASA’s first teacher in space. Her mission was to inspire a generation of American students to look toward the sky and pursue careers in public service and science. There could not have been a better choice for this important job. Through devotion to her students and acts of kindness toward those around her, Christa represented the best of New Hampshire.

Christa’s impact can still be felt across the state of New Hampshire, and I’m proud that this coin will help cement her place in American history for generations to come.

It is fitting that the proceeds from the coin’s sales will support FIRST Robotics, a nationwide leader in STEM education that helps fulfill Christa’s legacy by helping students discover the wonders of the world through education.

I was proud to work with my colleagues and friends Reps. Fred Upton, Debbie Dingell and Chris Pappas to help secure the co-sponsors needed to pass the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act in the House of Representatives. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen introduced this legislation in the Senate, and Sen. Maggie Hassan joined her in helping to secure its passage.

This was a bipartisan effort to honor Christa’s legacy and ensure that it lives on to inspire future generations.

I am elated to see Christa McAuliffe receive the recognition she deserves for inspiring generations of students to reach for the sky. I was glad to do my part in advancing the Christa McAuliffe Coin Act in the House and look forward to seeing this coin benefit FIRST Robotics to encourage students nationwide to pursue careers in STEM fields.

(Annie Kuster of Hopkinton represents New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.)

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