As Christmas leaves us as quickly as it came, I am reminded of another Christmas story in recent history. While I was not alive at the time, I still feel an impact from the events of Dec. 24, 1968.
I am referring to the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission where, after 68 hours of travel, three Americans became the first humans to orbit the moon on Christmas Eve. While this is easily one of the greatest accomplishments that man has ever achieved, it is one small part of that mission that still moves me to this day.
As the command module finished its fourth rotation around the moon, the astronauts happened to notice Earth through the command module windows as they turned the nose of the craft toward the moon.
Despite it not being a part of the mission, the astronauts were able to take several pictures of Earth from lunar orbit, with astronaut William Anders snapping the a color picture that would later be called “Earthrise”.
The picture shows the rocky surface of the moon, littered with craters, with the Earth rising over the horizon in an empty field of dark, black space. For the anniversary, NASA recreated the photo using modern technology.
The Earth stands out in the pitch-black nothingness of space. There are no stars; there is just the Earth. Encapsulated in that picture is a snapshot of humanity, and all that we’ve accomplished. Everything humanity has ever accomplished started on this one small speck in the infinite reaches of space. It is humbling to think about it in that light.
Later that day, after each astronauts took their turn introducing themselves, and giving their thoughts on the surface of the moon, they each took turns reading the first 10 verses of the Genesis. As they read a story of Earth’s beginnings, they were leading the way into a new age for mankind.
Happy birthday Friday to Paxton Armstrong, Tiffany Baxley, Gail Jamison, Melba Roe, Shameka Shannon, Fran Sikora and Mark Wines, all of Sherman; Glenn Hancock and Billie White of Denison.
Happy birthday Saturday to Les Allen, Alicia Cain, Tammy Hudson, Donna Mask, Nyla Maxwell, Eric Sims, Dr. Fred Snipes and Oscar Wetzel, all of Sherman; Ann Coulter, Alvin Jones III, Betty Minyard, Ariel Sawson, Jeannie Sewell and Dillon Stinson, all of Denison; Easton Neal and Joanie Rolen of Bells; Jamie Pierce Roubinek of Richardson; Laura Lindley of Palmview; Quincy Armstrong of Wolfe City; Joria Smith of Dallas; Elaine Gibson of Sherman.
Happy anniversary Saturday to Ben and Pamela Polk of Sherman, 40 years; Charles and Clara Freeman of Pottsboro, 62 years; David and Billie Shields of Tom Bean, 44 years.