Since the United States went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, we hear either on the radio or television around Christmastime taped messages from the soldiers who are serving in the two wars wishing family, friends, and sometimes their community a Merry Christmas wishing they were home for the holidays. These soldiers chose high risk career paths and sometimes their careers require them to miss the holidays with their loved ones in order to protect our freedoms abroad.
Another field that many consider high risk is being an astronaut. Astronauts, just like soldiers, do not have the luxury of taking holiday vacation during this time of the year because of their job requirements. If NASA schedules a mission during Christmas, then the astronauts have no choice but to perform their jobs even if they have to miss the holidays with their families. Just like soldiers when war breaks out. They try to make the best of it by sending brief Christmas messages back home. This was the case forty-one years ago today when the crew of the Apollo 8 had to miss Christmas because of their mission. They made the best of it by sending a moving Christmas Eve message to the country. Here is their story.
NASA scheduled the Apollo 8 mission several months in advance to take place between December 21 through December 27, 1968. On Christmas Eve, the Apollo 8 became the first spacecraft to orbit the moon and also conducted a live television broadcast from the lunar orbit, showing pictures of Earth and the Moon from the windows of the spacecraft. At the end of the broadcast, the three astronauts (Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, a Wisconsin native, and Bill Anders) gave one of the most memorable Christmas messages in history.
Lunar module pilot, William Anders, opened the message by saying "For all the people on Earth the crew of the Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send to you." Then each of the three astronauts read a quote from the Book of Genesis. At the end of the message, Borman closed out by saying, "And from the crew of the Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you-all of you on the good Earth." Tonight, as we celebrate Christmas Eve with our loved ones, please take the time to remember the men and women who are serving overseas in high risk war zones and thank God they were able to record or tape brief Christmas messages for all of us to cherish.
Merry Christmas and thanks for reading. I will be taking a couple of days off as I prepare more postings.
Here is the acutal recording.