A few days ago, I was sharing this story with two of my sons. After all, they are part of a generation that does not listen to the car radio and certainly never the AM signal.
1968 was actually a very tough year for everyone. There were riots all over the world, from Paris to Detroit. It was a tough summer. Yet, 1968 ended with a bit of good news. Apollo 8 went around the moon and gave us the most memorable moment of that rowdy year.
It’s hard to beat this one. This is what we heard from three men a quarter-million miles away:
Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts; Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders did a live television broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon seen from Apollo 8. Lovell said, “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.” They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis.
“For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you”.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”
“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”
Borman then added, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.”
James Lovell was on this mission and would also be part of Apollo 13 a couple of years later. Frank Borman became president of an airline and made a ton of TV commercials. I’m not sure what happened to Anders.
I can still remember Christmas 1968 and listening to the three astronauts read from Genesis somewhere around the moon. It was one of those moments that will live with me forever.