Astronaut Fred Haise Visits Reeves Elementary

We interrupt the flow of thank you letters from the Reeves Elementary multi-age class with another story from the class.

An Apollo rocket at takeoff.

An Apollo rocket at takeoff.

From the “Importance Of Reading In Professions” series, two of the students had indicated that they wanted to be astronauts. While we were readily able to obtain a judge, an attorney, a hairdresser, a rocket scientist, two forestry experts, an artist, a veterinarian, a physician, and a race car driver, we found that nailing down an astronaut was a more challenging request.

So, imagine my surprise, Friday, when my cell phone rang as I was writing on the medical record of a kitty with a broken leg, and I heard, “Dr. Randolph, this is Fred Haise.”

 

Hometown boy made good:  Astronaut Fred Haise.

Hometown boy made good: Astronaut Fred Haise.

 

Mr. Haise was in town, working on preparations for the beginning of construction for the Infinity Science Center in Hancock County, Mississippi. He explained that he had a little time that he could come to Reeves and speak to the multi-age class, if that would still work.

A quick phone call to the school and we had an afternoon time slot set.

    

When I walked into the classroom, he had already begun. His face glowed, his smile was bright, his trim and taut 76-year old body was eager. He was clearly in his element.

My very first view of Fred Haise, in action.

My very first view of Fred Haise, in action.

He spoke for about an hour, and the children’s attention never wavered. The questions they asked at the end of his presentation clearly showed they had been paying attention.

After the school busses came to take the kids home to Spring Break, we adults had time to visit. It was incredible.

For all of the glory he has lived and the accomplishments with his name on them, Fred Haise is as down-to-earth and humble as anyone you have ever met.

We talked about the past, but he lit up when he spoke of the future: the future of our country, the future of space travel, the future of the Infinity Science Center and what it can mean to the education of our young people.

Teachers embrace their guest of honor (L-R): Jill Lipski, Fred Haise, Robbin VonDerBruegge & Mrs. Fruge.

Teachers embrace their guest of honor (L-R): Jill Lipski, Fred Haise, Robbin VonDerBruegge & Janet Fruge.

If there were any regrets at the end of the day, it could only be this one: these first and second graders probably don’t understand that they were in the presence of a living legend, a pioneer, an icon.

I hope that their families and future teachers periodically remind them of whose company they were in today.

 

A moment of a lifetime!  Shaking hands with living history.

A moment of a lifetime! Shaking hands with living history.

A true American hero.

See you Monday, Dr. Randolph.

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