Saturday, December 24, 2011

To All of You On the Good Earth

Forty three years ago tonight, Christmas Eve 1968, I was a 12 year old boy with a Christmas television dilemma. On one channel the annual Red Skelton Christmas special was on. Our family really loved Red Skelton, and we all wanted to watch it. But on another channel was one of the most exciting events in human history - a live television broadcast from the Moon!

I was a space fanatic who wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. I knew all the astronauts by name. I cried in January 1967 when three men died in the Apollo 1 fire. They were my heroes. I had models of the various spacecraft and wanted to explain to anyone who would listen what was happening out at the moon.

Therefore, I chose both. Sitting inches from our black and white TV, I manually switched channels back and forth to see both the Skelton show and the moon broadcast.

Thus I was able to hear these words: "And for all the people back on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send to you. 'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..'" The You Tube clip above is a recording of what I saw and heard that night.

The Apollo 8 astronaut crew of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders took turns reading Genesis 1 from the King James Version of the Bible. As they read the ancient words, the on board TV camera showed the lunar landscape passing underneath the small and lonely spacecraft. The memory of hearing and watching that broadcast, and experiencing it live, is still awe inspiring even after 40 years.

Commander Frank Borman closed the broadcast with "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, and a Merry Christmas to all of you, all of you on the good Earth." Here's wishing a Merry Christmas this night, forty three years later, to all of you on the good earth.