Sunday, December 21, 2008

As 1968 drew to a close, 40 years ago...

IT HAD BEEN a wretched and demoralizing year.

In April, Martin Luther King had been murdered in Memphis; in Los Angeles two months later, Bobby Kennedy was struck down. The fighting in Vietnam ground bloodily on, pushing the American death toll past 30,000 and fueling massive antiwar demonstrations at home. The United States was humiliated when North Korea captured the USS Pueblo and imprisoned its crew for 11 months. Racial tensions worsened, as segregationist George Wallace launched a third-party campaign for president. Outside the Democratic convention in Chicago, TV cameras broadcast appalling scenes of chaos and police brutality. "Seldom," Time magazine observed, "had the nation been confronted with such a congeries of doubts and discontents."

"God bless all of you, on the Good Earth."

But in its final days, the annus horribilis of 1968 was unexpectedly redeemed by a dazzling display of intrepidity and ambition and nerve: Apollo 8's flight around the moon - the first human voyage to another world.

A Good Context for the 40th Anniverary of Apollo 8
In Sunday's Boston Globe can be read