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Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve 1968: "...and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."

1968 was perhaps the most turbulent year of the most turbulent decade of modern history.  Assassinations, wars, upheaval - sometimes peaceful and sometimes not - and the looming threat of global annhiliation... it seemed that the whole world had gone mad.

So maybe it took three men a distance of more than two hundred thousand miles from that same world to put things into humbling perspective for the rest of us.

It was fifty years ago tonight, on Christmas Eve in 1968, that the crew of Apollo 8 ended one of the most-watched television broadcasts in history with a special message.  William Anders, James Lovell, and Frank Borman took turns reading from the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.  Half a century later, their glad tidings from orbit above the Moon has lost none of its magnificent potency.

Here it is:

A short while earlier, the crew had become the first humans to witness the Earth as an entire planet in one glimpse.  Anders was able to capture the moment with a photograph that has since come to be titled "Earthrise":

"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."

~ Frank Borman, Mission Commander, Apollo 8