It was 1968, a year of tumultuous events, marked by the shocking assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
But as the year came to a close, millions raised their eyes to the skies for the hopeful message of Apollo 8, NASA’s lunar voyage. Manned by Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders, Apollo 8 achieved a series of firsts for space flight and NASA.
The three astronauts became the first men to leave Earth’s gravitational pull, the first to orbit the moon, the first to view all of Earth from space and the first to see the dark side of the moon. Just seven months later, Neil Armstrong would become the first human to step on the moon.
But on Dec. 24, 1968, the crew had a special message to deliver in orbit.
“We were told that on Christmas Eve we would have the largest TV audience that had ever listened to a human voice,” recalled Borman years later. “And the only instructions that we got from NASA was to do something appropriate.”
During the broadcast, as the astronauts beamed back images of the moon and Earth, they took turns reading from the book of Genesis. Then they closed with the following wish, “Good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you on this good Earth.”
The year 2017 was also tumultuous with natural disasters, political infighting and brewing international conflicts. Still, there is more that connects the people of this good Earth than divides us like love of family, community, the desire to help others, respect for hard work, achievement, decency and fairness.
During this holiday season, Barnhart wishes you the source of true peace on Earth in this video message.