On January 27, 1967 I was nine years old, in fourth grade, and already a space geek. I had followed, with great enthusiasm, the last of the Gemini missions which ended in November of 1966.
The Apollo One fire is probably one of the first events which I remember where I was, and what I was doing when it happened. It was a Friday, and my elementary school in Glendale, a suburb of St. Louis was having a fair which my family always attended. My great Aunt Katherine, who was visiting from Wisconsin had decided to stay at the house while we went to school to enjoy the festivities.
When we returned home my Aunt greeted us at the door with the news of the fire, which she had heard about on the radio. I remember feeling sad when she told us the three astronauts had perished.
In those days the majority of the news we received was from the Newspaper, network TV news, and the radio. There was no cable or internet, so most of the information on the space missions I received were via the newspaper or Life Magazine. I used to spend hours looking over the photos of the astronauts and spacecrafts after each mission.
When I found out Ed White and Gus Grissom were two of the astronauts, I was horrified. These were my heroes, both having flown in previous groundbreaking missions. The stories and pictures in the news stayed with me for many months.
A couple of years ago I visited the place where these men lost their lives to pay my respects. Launch Complex 34 has long been abandoned by the Air Force, and it took a little time finding it. The place was quiet, and peaceful, with only the waves breaking at the nearby beach. I consider it hallowed ground, where the first American gave their lives towards the Exploration of Space.
1968 was a turbulent year for this World. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, there were many major anti Vietnam war protests, violent protests at the Democratic convention in Chicago, and the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.
I had turned 10 and later realized, that the events of 1968 had expanded my world past my neighborhood to the United States, and the World.
Apollo 8 brought a peaceful end to 1968…..at least to me.
(Transcript of what was read aboard Apollo 8, December 24, 1968)
Bill Anders “We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.
‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
‘And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
‘And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
‘And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.'”
Jim Lovell “‘And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
‘And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
‘And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
‘And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.’”
Frank Borman “‘And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
‘And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.’
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.”
The power of the earth, moon, solar system at work…. Soothing and humbling.
The Beautiful wife and I were able to spend a few relaxing days down in Melbourne, FL on the beach this past September.
Growing up, the beach was her escape from an abusive household. Being a mid-western boy, I never experienced it until later in my life. She has shown me a new place to relax and experience the wonder of God’s creation.
Twenty Years ago I had the honor to work at the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympic Games.Growing up I viewed the Olympics as nations coming together with peaceful intent to showcase their best athletes. To see the best of the best whether it be team sports or individual I was always enthralled and engaged, via the TV.
Now, this was an opportunity to see it up close, and personal. I had secured a month long sabbatical from work, and had conditioned myself to be outside in the hot Atlanta summer.
I was assigned to the two field hockey venues which were on the Clark/Atlanta University system campus. When I put my application in I had listed event management of Ice Hockey which was gaining popularity in Huntsville, at the time. I guess whoever read the application decided ice hockey and field hockey were a lot alike.
The first two weeks were spent helping putting the “look” of the two stadiums together. As the construction crews were hurriedly finishing up construction of the roadways, external stadium entrances, and pedestrian walkway between the two stadia, we put up banners, signage, and did other tasks. We were actually expensive labor, as all 14 of us were getting paid.
Our official titles were “Sector Coordinators”, which meant…….we managed the sectors in the public areas of each assigned venue. The team comprised of people from all over the United States. Each day of competition there were volunteers who had signed up to take tickets and usher people to their seats. We worked with them to make sure all went smooth for each game.
I was honored to represent the United States, during these games, and had a great experience working with the team. It was also an honor to be able to interact with people from all over the world who came to the Olympic games to cheer for their team.
While in Las Vegas in June 2016, I was able to get out of the city and see some geography. The first place that came to mind was Red Rock Canyon. I love the beautiful Aztec sandstone.
Early morning walk with Dad……….
While visiting my daughter, Hannah and her family, I awoke and went outside to view the day and found my grandson walking next to his father away from the house. They were checking out the newly planted garden.
It reminded me of my father and I when I was a young lad.