Remembering Apollo 8, celebrating Christmas from a distance
EDITORIAL/OPINION – As 2020 draws to a close, families worldwide are gathering for Christmas Eve celebrations in various degrees of isolation, driven in large part to public health restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
For those who celebrate Christmas, this Holy Night and Christmas Day are typically occasions for great assemblies and large gatherings of feast and celebration. In many instances throughout history however, various situations have kept loved ones from being with each other. Whether due to critical shift work employment, on-duty service as a community protector or being overseas as part of a multi-month military deployment, few of these separated families have had their members night-time messages as widely broadcast or followed by the masses as the first humans to spend their Christmas Eve orbiting the Moon, some 238,000 miles away from home and their loved ones.
In December 1968, Apollo 8 carried three brave humans to the Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor, later giving rise to a very special Christmas Eve message being broadcast back to Earth and the astronaut’s loved ones.
Today, on the 52nd anniversary of the first live, human broadcast from the Moon, we celebrate all who are separated from their families and loved ones — for any reason or distance, however great or small.
In the words of Apollo 8’s Frank Borman, “And from the crew of 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.”
Sean Costello is a technology professional who also researches, writes about and speaks publicly on the inspiring lessons within international space flight program. Prior to joining SpaceFlight Insider in early 2014, Costello was a freelance photographer and correspondent covering shuttle-era Kennedy Space Center launches for various radio and print news organizations.