Those of us of a certain age and older remember 1968.
As we were living through it many of us wondered if we could survive, literally, and wondered if the nation could endure the tumult that tore at its soul.
The year began with that terrible Tet Offensive in Vietnam, where we were fighting a war that killed thousands of American service personnel that year. Two iconic figures, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, died at the hands of assassins. The Democratic Party nominated a presidential candidate while thousands of people rioted in the streets outside.
Then in December of that terrible year, three men launched from Earth toward the moon, produced the image I have posted on this blog. They read from the Book of Genesis while orbiting the moon’s surface.
These men — Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders — reminded us of the fragility of our existence and produced a never-before-seen image of our “good Earth,” as Apollo astronaut mission commander Borman described it in his Christmas message back home.
The Apollo 8 moon mission was more than just a competitive event between the United States and the Soviet Union. President Kennedy in 1961 had declared that we should “send a man to the moon and return him safely to the Earth” before the end of the 1960s. We would accomplish that mission in 1969, beating the Soviets in that race to the moon.
Before that, though, we had to send a space ship to the moon to orbit it and to return. Little could we have foreseen the symbolism embodied in that mission at the end of a terrible, tumultuous year.
It could not have ended more perfectly than it did just before Christmas 1968. It could not have been a more apt remedy to help restore some semblance of hope in the face of the mayhem that gripped the nation and the world.
The mission was, shall we say, one for the ages.
Those three men saw fit to read from the Holy Bible about God’s creation of the universe. The words from Genesis served to remind us that the Almighty was looking after us.
The year began and progressed through storm after storm.It ended with the image flashed around the world for the first time ever of Earth rising in the black sky all by itself.
It is our home. Turmoil and all.