Last week, all around the United States, many made solemn remembrances for those who lost their lives in the devastating terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, marking 20 years since that fateful day. One of the most touching tributes did not come from the U.S. though, it came directly from the International Space Station…
Remembering The 9/11 Victims
At the age of just six-years-old, Chad Keller knew what he wanted to do: become an astronaut. And never lost sight of his dream, pursuing dual degrees in both engineers and aerospace in college. Sadly, on September 11, 2001, he boarded American Airlines Flight 77, which terrorists would crash into the Pentagon. Like so many on that day, this innocent man was never allowed to achieve his dream.
While Keller’s life ended on that day, his goal of becoming an astronaut did not. 20 years later, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy made Keller’s space dreams a reality. You see, NASA allows astronauts to bring a small pouch of personal items with them on missions to the International Space Station. For his final mission this year, Cassidy decided to help Keller achieve his dream after reading his memorial at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Not long after, Cassidy contacted Keller’s father, Richard, asking if Chad would like to accompany him to space on his final mission. Of course, Richard gave Cassidy a enthusiastic, “Yes!” So, when the astronaut headed to the International Space Station this year, he brought with him a pin from Chad’s time at the University of Colorado, a picture of Chad and his wife, Lisa, and even some of Chad’s ashes.
Over the course of Cassidy’s mission, the astronaut photographed each item with the incredible backdrop of the Earth behind them. However, that’s not all he did! Cassidy also shared messages of hope with all the people of Earth below him…
Finally, An Astronaut
“With each item that I pull out, I always pause for a second to think a little bit about the story to that particular item,” Cassidy explained to CNN from the Space Station. “It’s kind of special to think about the story and the path, the journey of that object from the hands that it was in to my hands to this window.”
So far, the Kellers and Cassidy have yet to meet in person, but even if they never do, they are now bonded for life. After all, thanks to the astronaut, Chad was able to travel to the one place he always wanted to visit the most – space. Meanwhile, Cassidy’s remarkable gesture shows just how resilient humans can be, even in the face of the heaviest tragedies.
“The world would be a better place if every human being got five minutes to look out that window of the space station,” Cassidy said. “It made me more appreciative for everything that Earth offers to us. Friendships, connections, and shared experiences are all that much more meaningful to me now.”