Today is the anniversary of the deaths of the crew of the shuttle Challenger in 1986. The tragedy was of course recognised world-wide and letters of sympathy flooded in to NASA and the White House. Historian Dwayne Day located a letter from a well-wisher among the papers of the late President Reagan. In light of subsequent history its sender’s name may surprise you.
The letter reads in part:
“I have learned with profound sorrow the news of the explosion and crash of the Challenger. While viewing the accident as a great scientific loss, may I express my deepest condolences…to the American people and especially to the families of the victims of this accident. I pray that God will grant all of them fortitude.
Saddam Hussein, President of the Republic of Iraq”