Lieutenant Colonel Michael P. Anderson was born on December 25, 1959 in Plattsburgh, New York to Barbara and Bobby Anderson, but he always considered Spokane, Washington his hometown. He graduated from Cheney High School in Cheney, Washington in 1977 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and astronomy from University of Washington in 1981. After graduation, Mr. Anderson was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. In 1986, Lt. Anderson was selected to attend Pilot Training, where he could apply his skills. During this time in the Air Force, Lt. Anderson earned a Master of Science in Physics from Creighton University in 1990.
In December of 1994, Lt. Anderson was selected by NASA, and later reported to the Johnson Space Center in March of 1995. During his year of training and evaluation, Lt. Anderson qualified as a mission specialist for flight crew assignment and logged over 539 hours in space. Unfortunately, Lt. Colonel Anderson died on February 1, 2003 when the entire crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia perished during re-entry, 16 minutes prior to landing. Lt. Colonel Anderson is survived by his wife Sandra Hawkins and two daughters who now live in Houston, Texas.
Spokane’s tribute to Lt. Colonel Michael P. Anderson is an 8-foot, 600-pound bronze sculpture by Dorothy Fowler that was unveiled during a dedication ceremony on June 12, 2005. Lt. Colonel Anderson is kneeling in his space uniform with his helmet on his knee and a dove in his hand. There are three significant meanings in his pose. The kneeling position represents humility; the uplifting arm and heavenward gaze is faith; and releasing a dove of peace is inspiration.
A mantra of Lt. Colonel Michael P. Anderson was, “If you apply yourself, work hard to be persistent, and don’t give up, you can achieve anything you want to achieve.”