Photo: Time Life Pictures/NASA/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Fifty years ago, on Christmas Eve 1968,"a tumultuous year of assassinations, riots and war drew to a close in heroic and hopeful fashion with the three Apollo 8 astronauts reading from the Book of Genesis [to what was then the largest live TV audience in history] as they orbited the moon," AP's Marcia Dunn writes.

Fifty years ago this morning, the late poet Archibald MacLeish had an essay on the front page of The New York Times that I wanted to share with you in our own tumultuous times:

  • "The medieval notion of the earth put man at the center of everything. The nuclear notion of the earth put him nowhere — beyond the range of reason even — lost in absurdity and war."
  • "[H]eroic voyagers who were also men ... may remake our image of mankind. No longer that preposterous figure at the center, no longer that degraded and degrading victim off at the margins of reality and blind with blood, man may at last become himself."
  • "To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold — brothers who know now they are truly brothers."

The full essay.

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