The Astronauts of Apollo 8 - 1968 Persons of the Year
The Apollo 8 mission to the moon marked a momentous achievement for mankind that affected all levels of society from international relations down to individual families. For the first time men had left the orbit of our home planet and entered the orbit of an extraterrestrial body. The astronauts took with them advanced cameras able to take video and send it hundreds of thousands miles back to earth, streaming it into television sets across the nation. The highpoint of the mission was the reading of the first ten verses of Genesis on Christmas Eve.
Patricia Sutton-Knight was eleven years old when the broadcast was made: “I was watching it on TV, we had [a] black and white TV and just being able to think that the film was being sent down from the moon was amazing.” She remembers her mother staying up the entire night watching the broadcast and the subsequent news coverage, forgetting that Santa was due to visit that night. “My mom said that Santa had been up very late the night before watching TV and the Apollo 8 circle the moon” (Sutton-Knight). The mission was such an achievement that people forgot cherished traditions like setting out Santa’s presents. “...when I woke up early on Christmas morning, there were no presents”, Sutton-Knight recalled. Luckily, her mother quickly fixed that.
One of the greatest things to come from the Apollo 8 mission was the Earthrise photograph taken by Bill Anders. It was widely popular despite the lack of methods for instant distribution that we take for granted today. “We didn’t have cell phones or computers. We only had 8mm color film” (Sutton-Knight). In the late ‘60s the only ways to see a photograph was on television or in print. Once the photo was released it was widely featured on news stations and in newspapers and magazines, as well as in memorabilia. “My mom recently reminded me that I had a poster on my closet door of that picture with some inspirational saying on it” recalled Sutton-Knight. “[I] can’t remember what it said though, but it hung in the room for many years” (Sutton-Knight).
The photo is something that affects all types of people. Everyone shares the moon, everyone has a connection to it. And thanks to Earthrise, everyone could share the Earth too. The Apollo 8 mission to the moon was one of the greatest achievements of mankind. Sutton-Knight remembers that “...the Astronauts from Apollo 8 were the ‘man of the year’” in TIME magazine (Sutton-Knight). While Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon, these astronauts had paved the way with their journey to the moon months earlier.