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John G. Magee, Jr., a 19-year-old American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Britain, wrote "High Flight" in late 1941. He was killed that December in his Spitfire over England. President Reagan read from the poem in his address to the nation following the Challenger disaster in 1986, and its familiar phrases were used in honoring the brave men and women lost aboard shuttle Columbia in 2003.

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