Peggy Noonan has a new memoir out, and thus a reason to revisit her time as a speechwriter to President Reagan. In an appearance on “CBS This Morning,” Noonan told of how she came up with the last line of Reagan’s famous Challenger disaster speech, about how the astronauts had “slipped the surly bonds of earth and touched the face of God.”
The lines came straight from High Flight, a poem that Noonan had read and memorized in junior high school. She didn’t know whether Reagan knew the poem which was written by a British World War II fighter pilot named John Gillespie Magee, “I just had a hunch he did. Turns out he called me the next day and his first words were, 'How did you know I knew that poem?'"