(SCRN Reporter Lindsay Buchanan, Florence, contributed to this report)
Friday, January 28 marked the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster, which cost the lives of seven astronauts, including Lake City native Ron McNair.
On Saturday, McNair’s hometown was the center of a memorial service. A number of citizens turned out to honor McNair and visit the Florence County town’s old public library– now a museum showcasing McNair’s life history. Clyde Best, Publicity Chair of the Ron McNair Committee, says the development of the museum is just the first step.
McNair graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A & T State University with a B.S. degre in Engineering Physics in 1971. Awarded a Ph.D. in Physics from M.I.T. in 1976, McNair was the first African-American civilian astronaut.
A number of McNair’s family members were in attendance at Saturday’s ceremony, including his niece Desiree McNair. She says her uncle is an inspiration to all people that, no matter what your beginnings may be, you can reach for the stars and do great things.
McNair’s youngest brother Eric McNair says the museum is a fitting tribute to a great American and his hope that his brother’s legacy will inspire other to dream and set lofty goals.
Inside of the museum are photo galleries depicting McNair’s life from his childhood days to his days with NASA. Adjacent to the museum stands a statue near McNair’s gravesite.