Being a little younger then most of you, I grew up with the space shuttles and it was kinda sad to see the last one take off. My whole elementary school used to meet in the auditorium to watch them take off. It was pretty cool.
WOW! My elementary school did that too, but it was late 1960sand it was the Apollo Program (not sure of what grade I was in). They brought us into the auditorium to watch the return of one of the Apollos on one very old, wooden cabinet TV. I followed and studied each and every detail possible about the Apollo-series mission. I had even built one model rocket for each mission from Apollo 1 - on. I mean, I knew how many kids each astronaut had and their ages...where the astronaut went to school, his home-town, DOB...etc.
I remember that not one adult around me thought Apollo 13 crew would survive. I knew they could not be saved by anyone from earth. My father drew cold and harsh parallels between isolation and self-reliance in space and life on a boat (where I learned a lot about self-reliance). He use to say that "golfers think that 'life is a lot like golf, blah blah blah...when in fact, life at sea is like real life, you are on your own and left to your own devices.' I heard that philosophy from age 5 to adulthood and it has served me very, very well. He frequently marvelled at how I would have about 5 emergency plans in place for any given situation. A good teacher (regardless of the rage-attacks on me)...that's how.
I never made it to any launches. I really needed to though.