President Bush: "Their mission was almost complete, and we lost them so close to home. The men and women of the Columbia had journeyed almost six million miles, and were minutes away from arrival and reunion."
The smiling faces of the Columbia 7, looked out from a picture on the stage. Colonel Rick Husband, Commander William McCool, Dr. Kalpana Chawla, Commander Laurel Clark, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Anderson, Captain David Brown and Colonel Ilan Ramon.
Prayers were in Hebrew and in English. Words meant to comfort for the pain that for a very long time, will be very raw.
"The loss was sudden and terrible. And for the families, the grief is heavy. Our nation shares in your sorrow, and in your pride," said the President.
Ordinary Americans arrived in Houston, to pay their respects, and to refect on how the tragedy might change America. Right now, no one knows.
One mourner in Houston said, "Like anyone, for the first couple of days, it's not going to sink in. It will take a week, maybe two weeks, for it to sink in for everybody."
Another mourner from Lubbock: "You just feel like you're part of it. It's hard to express the sadness."
A bell was rung, once for each hero -- each memory of a life lived to it's fullest, but cut terribly short.