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The average person goes to the bathroom eight times per day. Eight times per day times 365 days in a year multiplied by my 30.5 years on this earth. Um, that’s a lot of bathroom trips.

Twenty years ago today, however, was probably the most memorable trip I ever took to the little boys room. And, since I was in 4th grade, I truly WAS a little boy.

Anyway, it was in the restroom of Jonesburg Elementary School in Jonesburg, MO where my principal said, “You know how we sent a rocket into space this morning? They think we lost it.” I was confused. How can you lose a rocket? I had yet to understand that “lost” could also translate to “destroy” “disaster” or “dead.”

For the next 15 years, the Challenger crash was the American definition of “disaster.” That is, until September 11th. When the Columbia shuttle crashed in the spring of 2003, it didn’t seem so bad. Yet the same sort of accident had set America’s understanding of “disaster” some 17 years earlier.

“Disaster” no longer equals a handful of astronauts dying. After 9-11, our definition changed. That is one of the horrible truths of the American mindset – until something tops the fall of the WTC, every other horrible occurrence will be judged as something bad, but certainly not to the scale of “disaster.”

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