CNN LARRY KING LIVE
A Look at Today's Memorial Service to the Crew of the Columbia
Aired February 4, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Today, a moving public tribute to the Columbia seven.
Tonight, emotional memories and insights into the lives lost with family, friends and colleagues of that tragic crew. Joining me in Houston where he led the prayers at today's memorial, Rabbi and U.S. Navy Captain Harold Robinson. Captain Gene Theriot, navy chaplain who gave the benediction at the ceremony and the Lieutenant Colonel Robert Dudley, Columbia Commander Rick Husband's Air Force instructor. From Camden, Ohio, Nancy Unkefer, cousin of Columbia mission specialist David Brown. and in New York, Nimrod Goor, best man at the wedding of Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli in space.
Then, why fly into space and what will Columbia mean for NASA? We'll ask Michael Rich Clifford, former astronaut who flew three shuttle missions; Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a top Congressional expert on NASA, flew on the Columbia in 1996; and former astronaut Story Musgrave, who flew the Challenger's first mission back in 1983.
And as the nation mourns, Christian leader Maxim Lucado, whose ministry is in San Antonio, Texas. And psychologist and grief counselor, Ken Druck, executive director of the Jenna Druck Foundation, named for the daughter he lost eight years ago in a tragic accident.
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
One quick note. As you all know, tomorrow morning Colin Powell will address the United Nations. We will carry that address, of course, on CNN. Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, among the guests will be national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. Condoleezza Rice commenting on Colin Powell's speech tomorrow night.
Let's start with Rabbi Robinson. Is that -- what you did today, having to quote the Bible and leading the congregation of prayers -- that the toughest part of being a rabbi?
CAPT. HAROLD ROBINSON, RABBI WHO LED PRAYERS AT TODAY'S MEMORIAL: The toughest part of being a rabbi is sharing in a moment of grief with a family and this occasion with the world and two nations and so many people here in Houston, the navy family around the world, sharing all of that grief and trying to begin a time of reconciliation and healing by taking time out from what has to happen day to day and the serious work happening here in Houston and helping people pause in that, collect their thoughts in their soul and be touched by God's spirit so that they can begin to grow and move on.
KING: Captain Theriot, do you feel a connection when you're praying and doing a benediction at an event like today? Do you feel a connection with a higher power?
CAPT. GENE THERIOT, CHAPLAIN GAVE BENEDICTION AT MEMORIAL: I absolutely do. One of the things I see whenever I lead in a public prayer is that this is my opportunity to bring God into the workplace, to bring God into the situation in which people find themselves. I see that as being a great honor and I do try at every occasion to make it a very personal prayer, to tailor it to the situation and to the people and the needs that I perceive there.
KING: Lieutenant Colonel Robert Dudley, U.S. Air Force retired, was shuttle Commander Rick Husband's instructor at squadron officer's school back in 1985. He stayed in contact. You weren't at the memorial, but you're going to attend the church memorial service, we understand, for Rick tomorrow. What kind of student was he?
LT. COLONEL ROBERT DUDLEY, USAF (RET.), TAUGHT CMDR. HUSBAND: He was the best. I would -- if I had two words to describe Rick Husband it would be a selfless servant. He was always thinking of others, he excelled but he never took the credit for himself. He was an encourager. He would help people and any opportunity for our particular section, we didn't have the best soccer team in the school. We didn't have the best winning record, but he was always out there encouraging and always seeing the positive side of any challenge that came about and he was a team player, a true team player.
KING: You were an instructor in squadron officer school, not astronaut, right?
DUDLEY: That is correct. I knew him as an F-15 pilot. He was what we call in the Air Force a fighter jock. And there's a certain mentality sometimes in the Air Force for fighter jocks. They are trained to be the best. They know that they're the best because they have to go up against the enemy.
Well, Rick was the best, but he also had a very humble, humble, contrite spirit and a heart that was oriented toward his God, his savior and others.
KING: Did he want to be an astronaut then?
DUDLEY: You know, I never heard Rick say that per se. Our focus was really getting through that nine-week course and he was a servant and at that time he was serving the United States Air Force as an officer and as a flyer, as a fighter pilot and that was -- that was what his goals were for that moment.
KING: Nancy Unkefer, the cousin of Columbia astronaut David Brown. David's parents were on this program with us on Sunday night. You attended launch when the Columbia mission took off.
Where were you when you learned the news? NANCY UNKEFER, COUSIN OF COLUMBIA CREW'S DAVID BROWN: I was at work, talking to a customer and he was upset with me because I was calling him and I apologized and he said haven't you heard what's happened and I said no. And he said, Well the shuttle just blew up and I was just so stunned and I immediately told him I had to hang up because my cousin was on that flight.
KING: That must have been a joyous occasion when they took off for you, right?
UNKEFER: Oh, it was wonderful.
It was blue sky, everything was perfect. NASA individuals that were there telling us everything that was happening. It was just wonderful.
KING: And his parents told us the other day that he loved flight. He loved flight when he was age 4-years-old. He loved fireflies.
UNKEFER: Yes he did.
He had a little beach craft airplane of his own and he loved it. That was the love of his life and he was so thrilled and his parents always encouraged him to follow his dreams and when he became an astronaut he was just in his glory.
KING: Does it temper the tragedy at all to know that he knew what he was doing and he knew the risks?
UNKEFER: Of course, of course.
He wanted to go and he did know the risks. Like Paul said the other night that he told one of the friends there at NASA that he wouldn't hold no ill regard if something happened. That he was just a wonderful, wonderful man.
KING: Nimrod Goor is in New York. He was best man at Ilan Ramon's wedding. He served in the Israeli Air Force with Ilan. They were in the same squadron.
When did he want to become an astronaut, Nimrod?
NIMROD GOOR, BEST MAN OF COLUMBIA CREW'S ILAN RAMON: He served in the Air Force for over 25 years and towards the end of his tenure in the Air Force he was offered the opportunity to become an astronaut and he embraced that with both hands. He was extremely proud of the opportunity and he saw the mission as much greater than the scientific research and the opportunity to be in space.
KING: Would you have taken the same offer?
GOOR: It's interesting that you ask, Larry.
I was at the launch and there was a group of about 200 Israeli delegates witnessing the launch. Many of our colleagues from the Air Force were there and quite a few of us said at the time that we would do anything just to be able to become an astronaut. Very sad to think about it now.
KING: What was the most special thing about him?
GOOR: He was -- he was an all-star, an Israeli version of an all-star. But to me what was most special about him was not so much what he did, but how he did it. He did it in a very unassuming and in a very humble way. He had his priorities and values set.
He was a very, very strong family person. You never felt that he felt superior to you in any way. He was a friend, you know?
Several weeks before the launch he called me up and said I've been looking at the list of invites for the launch and I didn't see your name there. I just wanted to make sure that if you were interested in coming the deadline is approaching. He didn't have to do that. He had quite a few other things going on, but that's the type of person that he was.
KING: How did you learn of the news of the tragedy?
GOOR: I lived in the West Coast, in the San Francisco Bay area, so it was very early in the morning, 6:30 in the morning and I started getting repeated phone calls actually from Israel. I heard that something was going wrong. I was completely shocked. It was not something that it was supposed to happen to him. He survived so many, many close calls in his past years.
KING: Let me get a break and we'll come back with more of our panel. Lots more to go on this show tonight.
This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The final days of their own lives were spent looking down upon this Earth. And now in every continent, in every land they could see, the names of these astronauts are known and remembered.
They will always have an honored place in the memory of this country. And today, I offer the respect and gratitude of the people of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Rabbi Harold Robinson captain in the Navy reserves who read the biblical passage in Hebrew and English, and led the prayer in the memorial service.
Where -- according to the Jewish faith, where do you believe these seven are today? ROBINSON: We are allowed to believe what gives us the greatest solace. We are not trial in that sense. People from the Jewish faith find solace in a wide variety of faiths. I know that Ilan, for example, described himself as not religious in the Israeli word (UNINTELLIGIBLE), yet he found a lot of solace in his faith and observed (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and had a sense of observing the dietary restrictions. And he brought all of that to this program and brought a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) scroll and a sense of study and tradition and history in and bringing the future together with the past to this light. He was really a repository of so many aspects of Jewish tradition.
KING: In other words, lead a good life.
ROBINSON: That was said today that one of Ilan's remarks was this life is not a rehearsal. This life we know is important. This life is what we have and we do the best to change the world for the better for our having been here. Whatever else suspects in good's living and good hands and we trust that we will receive a repose at peace.
KING: Captain, Theriot, as a Navy chaplain, you did a benediction today and the Christian ethic and concept, where are they?
THERIOT: We believe that those people who are of faith are those people who are received by god. And that god in his grace is far greater and far wider than our understanding.
KING: Do you believe that you believe in a heaven and hell? Are they reposing somewhere?
THERIOT: I believe definitely that there is a heaven and a hell and I believe that there is a god who has overcome death. And that those people who have faith in him and who trust in him will experience his life eternal.
KING: And Colonel Gore, will experience that, too, even though he may not have shared the faith.
THERIOT: Well, that's certainly not mine to judge. I believe that's fully and completely god's prerogative to judge. I know what the Christian scriptures say, and that Christ is the way, the truth and the life. And those would come faith in him will be those who experience gods presents thought eternity.
I think one of the really important things that took place today on that podium was that there was a Christian and a Jew who were there leading people, not only leading them out of our own personal experiences, but leading them as a community, a religious community and helping them to find strength and to find hope. We believe that they can find strength and hope in god who chooses to be present with them.
That was one of the things that I tried to emphasize in my benediction was that god who is present with us. We have a god who is not hidden between the books, the covers of the holy book or behind the walls of some building, but a god who is present and real and who chooses to be present with us in good times and in bad.
ROBINSON: That question that you just asked is marvelous because it allows us to remember that people are touched by god beyond our understanding and our capacity to judge.
ROBINSON: And that there can be no measure in us of other people and their statement of faith. Ilan would say that he's not religious, was not religious yet in so many ways he was a man of important faith.
KING: Colonel Dudley, Rick Husband was a very, very believing person, was he not?
DUDLEY: Yes. He was. We had a lot of discussions, you know, Larry, we live in a very dark world especially in light of situations, circumstances right now. And I think we all look toward role models or mentors. And Rick and I had discussions about this during the nine-week course on our own after-hours and his mentor was Christ Jesus.
He was the example -- he was who he modeled his life after and I think by doing that, I think Rick brought a lot of light into the world, into a dark world of those around him. We one time talked about the death and the coming into this world and departing this world. And there are some that come in one time and for one birth and if they leave, they leave with a physical death and perhaps a spiritual for death.
For Rick it was more he was born a physical birth. He had a spiritual reborn and the one death now, I think has him only for the physical body. We know where he is in the spiritual realm.
KING: Nancy, what did David believe?
UNKEFER: I'm not sure, Larry, I don't know that. I pray that he accepted Christ. I don't, though.
KINGL: But he certainly faced life with a great deal of fortitude, did he not?
UNKEFER: Yes, he did. He did it with gusto in every way. He accomplished so many things and he strove to do more. He wasn't satisfied just to be a doctor or just to be a pilot. He wanted to be an astronaut, too. He was just a person that excelled in every way.
KING: If there is a god he would have liked on -- he would have liked David a lot.
UNKEFER: Yes he would have. David was liked by everyone. I made the remark at the reception they had for the astronauts that David just attracted people of quality no matter who they were. If they were just the neighbor who watched his dog they were wonderful people. KING: And Nimrod what was -- Ilan's view on faith?
GOOR: I think that he was -- he believed very strongly that he was pursuing a cause that was much greater than the individual. He saw himself representing not only Israel and the hope for peace and science and the good things that can come to the region, but also representing the path of his family. His mother was a holocaust survivor. And the possibility of the holocaust survivors surviving death, surviving the death camps and raising a family and a son to become a colonel in the air force and an astronaut was a responsibility he carried with him.
KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be back with guest. The next round of guests will be Rich Clifford, Senator Bill Nelson and Story Musgrave.
We'll talk about NASA and its future. And then we'll hear from an expert in grief counseling and a prominent Christian creature. All that ahead.
Condoleezza Rice, tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: In time you will find comfort and the grace to see you through and in god's own time we can pray that the day of your reunion will come. And to the children who miss your mom or dad so much today, you need to know they love you and that love will always be with you. They were proud of you, and you can be proud of them for the rest of your life.
KING: We now welcome to the program Rich Clifford. He's in Houston. Former NASA astronaut, retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, a veteran of three shuttle missions, logged more than 665 hours in space, including a six-hour space walk. He attended today's memorial.
Senator Bill Nelson is in Washington. The senator is a Democrat. Attended today's memoria. One of the leading congressional experts on NASA, and while in the house was chairman of the space subcommittee of the Science, Space and Technology Committee and he flew a six-day mission on the shuttle Columbia in 1986.
And in Orlando is Dr. Story Musgrave, former NASA astronaut six spaceflights including the Challenger's first mission in '83, the first Hubble telescope service and repair mission aboard the Endeavour in '93 and STS-80 aboard the Columbia in 1996. He was not at the memorial today.
All right, Rich. There are a lot of critics saying now that the whole concept of the shuttle is outmoded and too costly and should be ended. What do you think?
MICHAEL "RICH" CLIFFORD, FLEW THREE NASA SHUTTLE MISSIONS: Well, I think they're wrong.
This is a very, very deliberate process that we go through every time to certify this vehicle for flight. Everything you build is out of date by the time you build it and we certify it for flight each and every time and they wouldn't launch it if it wasn't safe.
KING: And you have no doubt about its continuance.
CLIFFORD: Absolutely not. We need to continue on, not only because of the memory of the fallen, but because it's the right thing to do.
KING: Senator Nelson, you're some of the hundred that have to fund this thing. What do you think?
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Well, Larry, we have to have assured access to space and this is the way to get to space with humans and we've got this magnificent structure up there now, the space station, and we got to utilize that for science.
I think the legitimate question is do we replace the orbiter Columbia with an updated, better technology orbiter or do we go to some other kind of technology? And NASA is going to be -- it looks like developing a smaller space plane that will launch on an expendable and will be our rescue vehicle in the future for this space station.
KING: Is that something you like?
NELSON: Well, I think it's a necessary step because right now we only have a lifeboat on the Russian Soyuz United States and it can only carry three and we really need to get more than three up there so we can do the science that we need from the space station.
KING: Dr. Musgrave, what about those who say the robotics do just as well?
STORY MUSGRAVE, SIX NASA SPACE FLIGHTS: Larry, we need a balance between robotic spaceships and human spaceships. We need to go forward with the best we can. We need a very long-term vision which takes us to Mars, which takes us to the planets, the moons and the planets and back to the moon.
But we need to go first with the sophisticated robots that will establish our habitats, that will do the science, that will show that we can live off the land in terms of extracting oxygen, fuel and those kinds of things.
So we need an integrated program. Lately, of course, the human programs have taken all of the resources so we could not have a very advanced robotic system.
Concerning the shuttle, we do need to fly it out to its useful lifetime. We need to continue to support the space station, but it's unfortunate that we have not had a vision as to what is the next human spaceship that comes after the shuttle. We always need to have a long-term vision which leads us out there next, such one system is done, its useful lifetime, we move on to the next.
KING: Rich, when you were returning from orbit, when you were coming into the landing mode, were you worried?
CLIFFORD: No. I was aware of the danger, but I wasn't worried.
Entry is such -- it's like a ballet. Everything is choreographed and you're following along. You've got time to chat, you've got time to come up, you've got time, if a failure comes up, you've got to discuss it until you get down to Mach-5 where everything gets busy. But before that, it's just following a prescribed path that you practiced over and over again.
KING: What do you make of what happened here?
CLIFFORD: Well, it was beyond their control. And the investigation will determine what went wrong and what the chain of events is that led to the shedding of the tiles.
We don't know what initiated the event, but we do know -- I think we can surmise that we lost tiles and they ended up in thermal damage to the vehicle.
KING: Senator Nelson, does it bother you that there were apparently some critics who said this was going to happen and who NASA even fired a few?
NELSON: Larry, we even, back in the early '80s were trying to figure out could we go outside the shuttle and repair the tiles on orbit and for a number of very specific reasons it was decided that we couldn't.
But even if we had been able to take pictures up in orbit, we might not have been able to determine if the tiles were damaged sufficiently, that you would have to take some kind of drastic action. So -- those are things we're going to have to look at in the future.
KING: Do you expect a full and thorough investigation, Senator?
NELSON: Yes, I do.
First of all, I think NASA is on a very fast track and I think the likelihood is they're going to find this and determine the fix. It's not going to be like Challenger 17 years ago when faux pases dribbled out over several months and it finally took a presidential commission.
It may take that. We're going to have several committees up here and the Congress working on it as well. I think it will be a much speedier and a more satisfactory process of finding the fix.
KING: We'll be right back with more of our panel on this important topic right after this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are thrilled to be in this beautiful new laboratory and anxious to get going on 15 days just packed full of science from many, many different disciplines and we're thankful for all of the hard work of the space (UNINTELLIGIBLE) team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Dr. Musgrave, you flew six spaceflights, did you have worries? Did you think that you might buy it?
MUSGRAVE: I felt probably a lot like rich in that the launches were very scary. That is more risk than I wish to tolerate especially riding the solids.
I've been in the aerospace world for over 50 years, I'm not a risk taker, I like to control risk so that I can go back and do it again next year.
As Rick said, we did feel rather comfortable about entries. They're slower after you light the engines. A half an hour later you're in the as moss fear. I used to float things in front of my face. I'd watch them and when they in unison slowly started toward the floor I knew we were in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. It was kinesthetic, it was graceful.
The fire out of the overhead window was just spectacular. The rainbows, the way the shockwaves would paint themselves into fire, the blue lightning coming off the nose. And so it was very graceful and very beautiful and it's a come home day.
So I had the kind of feeling that as much as I liked space I'm coming home to Mother Earth, coming home to my family. .
KING: Did you worry that something might go wrong? That one little thing might could wrong?
MUSGRAVE: In the space shuttle program we are threading a very, very small needle. It is an extraordinarily fragile system. And no matter how well we do it, as perfectly as we do it, things are going to happen. It is that kind of system.
KING: I asked the senator this, I'll ask you, Rich, do you think the investigation will be thorough and we'll find the answer to what happened Saturday?
CLIFFORD: I'm convinced we will. I think all you have to do is look at the daily testimony of Ron Dittemore, the shuttle program manager. He's giving you every bit of information. Some of it may be updated and changed later on, but he's letting the public know in advance what they're doing. I'm sure that they will find this quickly and we'll be back in the air quickly.
KING: And Senator Nelson, when you flew as a civilian, were you concerned about re-entry?
NELSON: Larry, I think these two gentlemen have described the feelings perfectly. I would only say that I stuffed any fear and just focused on what I was doing knowing that it was a great privilege for me to be there, enjoying that wonderment of looking out the window back at planet Earth and then being glad to come back home. And it's just a spectacular kind of experience, and one that just was very sad today down in Houston.
KING: Thank you all very much. Rich Clifford, Senator Bill Nelson and Dr. Story Musgrave.
When we come back, Max Lucado the best-selling Christian author and Ken Druck, psychologist who specializes in grief counseling. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BUSH: The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth. Yet we can pray that all are safely home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go with throttle up.
RONALD REGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT UNITED STATES: I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out of landing a man on the O'BRIEN: on and returning him safely to the Earth.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KING: If you have questions on grief and grief counseling, we'll take calls in these two segments.
Joining us in San Antonio is Max Lucado. Max was with us the other afternoon. He's the best selling Christian author of "A Love Worth Giving" and "Traveling Light." He's senior minister of the Oak Hills Church of Christ.
And here in Los Angeles, Ken Druck, psychologist grief counselor, executive director of the Jenna Druck foundation. Jenna was his daughter who died in a 1996 bus accident while studying in India. She was only 21. The foundation's families help families program and provide bereavement services to families who have experienced the death of a child.
Is there a common, Ken, theme through counseling those who are left behind?
KEN DRUCK, GRIEF COUNSELOR, EXEC. DIR. JENNA DRUCK FDN.: I think the common theme is respect, in the words of the president, respect and compassion. They say that compassion is your pain in my heart. I think our capacity to experience compassion is the core of good, whether we call it counseling or simply being with other people whose turn it is to be suffering because of the loss of a loved one.
KING: Is it much harder when it's a child?
DRUCK: It is much harder. It's hard to -- it's who we ask that question, but it is said that the worst loss is the loss of a child.
KING: Obviously. You lost a child.
DRUCK: I lost a daughter.
KING: And some people lost children, even older children in this.
DRUCK: A child is a child is a child whether the child is 41 years old or 5 years old. So that's that experience of -- and of course, for the children, the 14 children that are involved here, the losing of a parent is almost unfathomable. A young parent.
KING: Max, as a minister is this the hardest thing you do?
MAX LUCADO, MINISTER, OAK HILLS CHURCH OF CHRIST: Without a doubt, it is, Larry. I can't imagine anything more difficult.
But I guess I could imagine one thing more difficult and that is to try to help someone who has no faith or who has no hope. That would be very, very tough. But even when there is faith and when there is hope because the best faith we have as we call it a holy hunch and a high hope, even then it's difficult.
There's no way to make this easy although what happened in Houston today was very remarkable and I think took many people several steps down the healing process.
KING: Is faith essential, Ken?
DRUCK: Faith is essential, but one mistake we tend to jump into quickly without giving people a chance to experience the opposite of faith which is doubt many of the 9/11 survivors, the people who lost some someone in September 11 later talked to us and said you know what?
I didn't need to be told so quickly that my husband, wife, child, mother, father was with god. I needed some time to be angry and upset with god. I needed to be able to come back to faith. I needed that stage of anger. So, sometimes that's critically important.
KING: You'd agree, Max, that people who have lost like this in tragedy will ask the question why did god allow this?
LUCADO: They sure will and I think that's a very fair question. The initial response to this type of crisis, especially the closer you are to it is that of anger, because it is a crisis. It's what you didn't expect to happen. And we have expectations and these expectations are cut short. They're interrupted. We think it's not fair. And the whole process of coming to grips with these unexpectations is not very easy. I have a friend who says that grief is like a lazy Susan. Every time I push it away it seems to come back.
KING: How about comforting a whole nation, Ken? A nation feels this.
KING: Comfort and nations?
DRUCK: Yes. We had our skins -- I like to talk about grief as people walking around grieving as having no skin because we don't have that protective layer that we're safe and secure any longer. And we're just growing skin back as a nation, and yet something like in happens and the loss last week and all these traumas and our skin gets ripped off again.
Again we're exposed to the fact that each day is precious, that it not only happens to somebody on television somewhere else, that some of us directly suffer these kind of losses. That life is a volatile experience. We sign up to love and to live. We also sign up to lose and sometimes this happens.
KING: But it's not supposed to happen, Max.
LUCADO: No, it's not.
KING: It's not supposed to happen.
LUCADO: We kind of get this impression that we're bulletproof and invulnerable. Again, I think what happened today is something really noteworthy. I noticed two or three things that happened, first of all, there was a specific intent to honor those who had left us. That's a part of the healing process. At some point in healing, you go from saying why me to what a privilege. You go from saying why did god -- why was this was person taken to, what a privilege to have had this person at all. And that doesn't come quickly.
But a ceremony like today stirs a sense of appreciation as we stand back and say, well, maybe their lives seemed short to us, but what they did in their lives was phenomenal. And that sense of gratitude brings then, I think, comfort to those who miss those people so dearly. And it challenges those of us who are still here that there is a way that we can, in a sense, validate their passing, because we're going to pick up the torch. We're going to move forward. We're going to honor their lives with a work of our own. And I think those challenges were issued today as well and I think that's important in the healing process.
KING: Does it help, Ken, to be in a group together? Do you think it helped all those people to be together with fellow sufferers?
DRUCK: Absolutely. The whole premise of our Families Helping Families Program is putting people together who have gone through comparable losses. The families who were involved in my own daughter's death we've all become bonded. As I imagine many of the families were and it's the basis for what happened in New York.
KING: Were you talking to 9/11 people Saturday morning.
DRUCK: Saturday morning I was on way to -- we had a support group for the 300 California families who lost somebody September 11. And I was on my way to meet with that support group when this news came.
KING: When you heard the news, you immediately know you're going to be needed in places.
DRUCK: I know I'm going to be needed.
KING: But you have grief.
DRUCK: My immediate thought goes to -- see there's two levels of what's happening here. The public grieving because it's a very public event, and that's what people are going through generally. It's the honoring of a nation. It's the grief of a nation.
But then there are those people in the epicenter, the very family, my heart and thought goes to the families because after all of us go back to life, they become yesterday's news. And that is when they need us most. When the reality sets in and shock wears off.
KING: How, Max, do you deal with your own grief?
LUCADO: I believe that you allow yourself to experience that anger. You acknowledge that it's a roller coaster emotion, some days you're going to be up, some days you're going to be bad. Grief sneaks up on us like a bad headache. We allow that grief to happen. I believe like Ken said, some type of interaction with fellow sufferers is absolutely essential. If you bottle it up and keep it inside you begin to think that you do not have anybody who understands or something's wrong with you. And the more you can share with others, the sooner the healing will begin.
I believe a very important part of this process, especially for those close to the deceased, is a sense of closure if there are any unresolved conflicts. Regrets, things they wish they had said. You know, at some point you do something tangible to kind of bring the loop to a close or come full circle. It may be a letter you write or it may be something that you confess to the grave.
KING: You still have guilt, right?
LUCADO: Absolutely. In fact my heart went out today -- yes. My heart went out for the -- those 17,000 NASA Engineers and workers. They may be -- I'm sure they're feeling something and they need to come to peace with this as well.
KING: By the way, the non-profit fund established to aid the children of the Challenger astronauts is now seeking do nations for the 12 children of the Columbia astronauts. Donations can be sent to the Space Shuttle Children's Trust Fund. Post office box 34600 Washington, 20043-4600. You can contact Ken Druck, by the way, at Jenna that's in honor of his daughter Jennadruck.org.
When we come back we'll include some of your phone calls. Don't go away.
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BUSH: America's space program will go on. This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose. It is a desire written in the human heart. We are that part of creation which seeks to understand all creation. We find the best among us, send them forth into unmapped darkness and pray they will return.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back we're going to take some calls, but Ken Druck wanted to add something about closure.
DRUCK: Larry, we have to be careful with concepts like closure. I think old school thinking about grief is that we pathologize it. We call sorrow depression. We sometimes make the mistake, and it's not in service to the people who are grieving, to say that they should be gaining closure when in fact it never completely closes.
KING: To Montreal. Hello.
CALLER: Hi. I had a question. I lost my 2-month-old baby recently and I find myself glued to the TV for the last few days watching the tragedy and the grief with the families and I was wondering if this is normal way for me to...
KING: Max, to you is that understandable?
LUCADO: I think so. I think that what she's experiencing is a desire for community and finding it through this tragedy.
KING: Do you agree, Ken?
DRUCK: Yes. I think we as a whole nation are going to school on grief. We're beginning to understand so much more and we have pictures of people honoring, people speaking to grief. People showing respect to those who have lost someone they love and I think this is probably speaking to you as well.
KING: Lowell, Massachusetts, hello. CALLER: Good evening, gentlemen. Gentlemen, how are you guys?
CALLER: Good. My question is in regards to the children of the disaster, how important or not important is it to keep certain things and to make some things, you know, try to keep things from these kids. The look in their faces is obviously shock.
KING: What would you tell them, Ken?
DRUCK: First of all, the best way to talk to your kids is to listen, to always listen and to take clues from what they're ready to hear. They will ask questions if they're curious and they'll tell you when they heard enough because they'll tune out and look away.
So I think it's very important to take each individual child one at a time and if you have any questions there are wonderful people to bounce off of.
KING: What do you say to a 9-year-old who lost his father on Colombia, Max?
LUCADO: I can echo what Ken said? I think availability to the children is really important.
The funeral and memorial service is great for grownups. Children are going process this, of course, in a different rate which you expect them to. And the importance of grownups being nearby to be available whether they say something before they go to bed or at lunchtime, the most curious and bizarre times we might think they might just perk up and say something.
At that point I believe it's really important to try to frame what has happened in language, that the children can understand. If the home is attempting to be a faith-based home, then you certainly speak out of the concept of your own faith.
But I believe using words -- I personally think it's fair to use words like he's asleep. He's gone, we have a promise that we'll see him and not try to press it too far, but see what kind of response, what level...
KING: You don't agree, ken?
DRUCK: I -- I think that we need to ask children first. We need to ask them what they think -- what's going on inside of them? What questions they have. We need to help them explore.
KING: But if the question is, Where's Daddy? Logical question.
DRUCK: If the question is, Where's Daddy my honest answer would be, I'm not completely sure, let me tell you what I'd like to believe.
Max said it earlier, we bet our faith and I think we have to be honest when we're not completely certain, but this is what we believe and what we want to believe.
KING: It is certain you say that, right?
DRUCK: Then you say this is what I believe is certain, but not to the exclusion of allowing that child to come to faith organically.
KING: Anaheim, California. Hello?
CALLER: Good evening and peace to you, gentlemen. My question really is for Pastor Lucado. I have a problem with supporting the space program just based on my reading Peter II 2:17 and also Jude 9 which is basically discussing deepest blackness which is reserved for certain individuals and Pastor Lucado, I'm interested in knowing your thoughts on that. Do you believe it's space, outer space or just a separate place?
LUCADO: I appreciate your concern. I don't think that those passages are referring to that. Quite the contrary I think God is planned within us a hunger to explore the unknown, a great curiosity. It's God given. God ordained and should be pursued. In fact, I'll volunteer to be an astronaut tomorrow.
KING: What about you, Ken, would you go up?
DRUCK: Yes, I'd go up. I feel like I have.
KING: Two out of three. Anderson, South Carolina, hello.
CALLER: Thank you, gentlemen, for your being there for grief counseling. My question is how do you bring closure when you do not have a chance to say good-bye? That happened to me...
KING: We only have a minute and it happened to the lady.
DRUCK: I think we can say good-bye. We learn to do is instead of holding somebody in a physical space we hold them in what I call spirit space. We have to somehow find them out here and we can talk with them.
I commune with my daughter all of the time. Whether or not I'm a fool for doing it, whether or not it's real, I really don't care. I bet my faith that she in some way is listening. I say what I need to say. I hear what I can hear, what she would want to say to me. I think that's as close as we get.
KING: Max, thank you so much as always for joining us. You always add a great deal of insight to this program. We appreciate you doing this.
LUCADO: Thank you, Larry, thanks for bringing the topic up.
KING: Yes. We'll do more of it and Ken Druck, for thank you so much.
DRUCK: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Again, you can contact Ken Druck at jennadruck.org. Max Lucado is at the Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio.
And you can contact the space shuttle children's trust at post office box 34600 in Washington.
Be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night.
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KING: Tomorrow Secretary of State Colin Powell will address the United Nations and the world in what will be his most important speech ever. You'll see it on CNN and tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, Condoleezza Rice will be our special guest and a panel of others including Bob Woodward to discuss what he had to say and the ramifications of what he had to say.
Right now we head out to Houston where Aaron Brown remains, Miles O'Brien is with him and Aaron is going to have his look at what happened today, an event he witnessed. Aaron, take it away.
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