Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Thirty nine years ago tonight human beings, men, three American astronauts went to the dark side of the moon. The Apollo 8 mission was the second manned Apollo flight, the first circumnavigation of our closest celestial neighbor and the precursor to what would ultimately put two Americans on the lunar surface in July 1969.

How easy it is to forget such achievements, how quickly the subsequent history over shadows such defining moments.

The Apollo Program was the culmination of an unprecedented project, a project of immense scale and scope with inherent complexities wrapped within unknown and unknowable risks. It was the result of a mandate issued by a young president who wouldn’t live to witness its fulfillment. But, we saw it happen. We watched in respectful silence in those turbulent days as we marveled at what we were capable of at, what the best, brightest and bravest of us were able to accomplish by striving beyond expectations while so many of the rest of our best, brightest and bravest fought the good fight in the jungles of Viet Nam.

As Apollo 8 orbited the moon, the crew were seen in flickering grainy, black and white image television images during a live broadcast from the farthest reaches of mans explorations. Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders delivered a humble yet enormously profound message from that distance, a message from the Bible, the first Book of the Old Testament, Genesis, to be precise. Who could imagine such a message today with all the political correctness and partisanship, endless bickering over matters of church and state?

But, at that time it was taken in the manner it was delivered and in that spirit, their message to all of us is reprinted below.

From all The Brooding Cynyx to all of you and yours, Happy Holidays and all the best in health, happiness and peace.

So, from Christmas Eve 1968, broadcast live from lunar orbit, the crew of Apollo 8:

William Anders:

We are now approaching the lunar sunrise and, for all the people back 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.

Jim Lovell:

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.

Frank Borman:

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.

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."

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