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Christmas Eve 1968 December 25, 2008

Posted by sharon in Uncategorized.
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earthrise-december-19681In 1968, this country was deeply involved in an unpopular war on the other side of the world and still reeling from the assassinations  of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4  and Robert F. Kennedy on June 6. The Cold War with the Soviet Union was heating up. There wasn’t much to feel optimistic about. But the race to the Moon that had begin with the challenge issued by President John F. Kennedy in a special address to Congress on May 25, 1961, shortly after Mercury astronaut Alan B. Shepard became the first American in space, had not faltered.

On Christmas Eve, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders become the first humans to enter lunar orbit. After three orbits of the moon, during which all of their attention was focused on the moon, they took this photo, one of many actually, of  “Earthrise” over the lunar horizon, showing Earth for the first time as it appears from deep space. In a live broadcast that night, the crew took turns reading from the Book of Genesis, closing with a holiday wish from Commander Borman: “We close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth.”

It’s been pointed out many times that you can’t see national boundaries from space. Star Trek assumes the existence of a world government by the 23rd century—a single Earth government, the whole human race finally at peace with itself and comfortable with its infinite diversity. We have a long way to go to get there, but those of us who lived and breathed ST:TOS haven’t yet given up on that vision. At least I hope we haven’t.

Merry Christmas, to all of you on the good Earth. I leave you with this New York Times essay titled Not-So-Lonely Planet by Oliver Morton. One doesn’t often find the words energy, matter, Sun, strength, beauty, light, and life in the same Times op-ed piece.

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