On this Christmas Eve, I tried to go through my books to figure out what would be an appropriate bit of aviation trivia for a night like tonight. As we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, we as a nation, as a society, have seen tremendous and often chaotic changes in the past decade. From a financial crisis, wars abroad, and, from the perspective an someone who has long found enjoyment and fascination in aviation, to have seen what I have long loved used as weapon of terror in 2001, it reminded me in some ways of a similar chaotic period in our history- the late 1960s.
The Christmas Eve broadcast of Apollo 8 from lunar orbit is still the most-watched television broadcast in history and though I have seen it many times, it still gives me goosebumps as I listen to the voices of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders read from the Book of Genesis as the first human beings to travel beyond Earth orbit.
It was a fitting way to end what was one of the most traumatic years in our nation's history- the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Bobby Kennedy, and the riots at the DNC Convention in Chicago. To think that at that singular moment, a short set of ancient biblical verses read by three intrepid explorers viewing our blue planet against the harsh backdrop of deep space, would, even for just a moment, give every person who heard it pause to think of themselves not in terms of race, nationality, political affiliation or religion, but as citizens of all of humanity.
I didn't realize that there was an Emmy Award for that broadcast. For me, though, that is only the least of honors that could ever be bestowed on a moment that always ties together my love of aviation with all that is greater than any one of us can ever be.
A very Merry Christmas and a Happy Prosperous New Year to all my readers, my fans, and the collectors of my artwork!