1968 was a terrible year.
America was politically divided: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated; more US troops were dying than ever in the Vietnam War; people were questioning authority and demonstrating in the streets.
Launched on December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 was the second manned U.S. spaceflight mission and the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it, and return.
On Christmas Eve, NASA instructed the astronauts Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Jim Lovell to say something appropriate during the broadcast, but few knew what they would say. Some 1 billion people in 64 countries were tuning in.
Commander Borman activated a small hand-held TV camera and announced: “This is Apollo 8 coming to you live from the moon.” Viewers were shown what the moon looked like from about 70 miles above the surface.
Borman continued: “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.”
This is the message.