The Fiction Team would like to wish all our readers and writers a very Merry Christmas.
Here we are (above), in our Dundee headquarters – home of ‘The People’s Friend’.
A Peaceful Christmas
We’re mindful that as well as being a season of joy, Christmas can be a difficult time.
We hope your festive season is peaceful, and that the ‘Friend’ brings comfort and joy to all our readers.
Christmas can be a time for memories; looking back, it’s not the first year that’s had more than its fair share of distressing news.
For Americans, 1968 was just such a year.
Respected news anchor, Walter Cronkite summed it up thus:
“The whole 1960s really culminating in 1968 were the most terrible decade, undoubtedly, of the twentieth century and very possibly our entire history, even including the decade of the Civil War. America was divided as it never had been since the Civil War and by the Vietnam War, by the civil rights fight.
“Everything seemed to come to a head in ’68. There were the assassinations of two of the leaders of the more liberal causes. Bobby Kennedy, shortly after winning that election in California that probably would have put him over the top as the presidential candidate that year, and Martin Luther King, of course, in Memphis, was a terrible blow to the entire cause of civil rights…
By December the country was pretty far down.”
Against this unhappy backdrop, fifty-five years ago, the Apollo 8 mission was launched.
A Christmas Eve Message
On Christmas Eve, 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 were orbiting the moon and had been asked to ‘say something appropriate’.
Astronauts Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman, the first people to travel to the moon, took turns to read from the Book Of Genesis, verses 1 to 10.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…”
It’s estimated that a quarter of the world’s population watched the live broadcast.
Light In The Darkness
Then as now, there’s always light, even in dark times.
The Apollo 8 mission was fraught with danger, but laid the groundwork for the 1969 moon landing.
It allowed Bill Anders to take his iconic ‘earthrise’ photo.
The crew would later reminisce about the many telegrams they received on their return, including one which said simply, “You saved 1968”.
And they were even able to confirm the existence of a certain Mr Claus!
The Season Of Hope
The mission showed that there are more things that unite us than divide us.
That when we work together we can achieve amazing things.
That hope triumphs over fear.
And it brought out the best of human nature – just like Christmas itself.
A Merry Christmas
I’ll leave you with a link to the original Apollo 8 broadcast.
And our Fiction Team message, which mirrors that of the crew’s:
“Good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth”.