J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS: Apollo 8 — Gifts from Long Ago:

During Christmastime in 1968, one of the most significant events in human history occurred. The flight of Apollo 8 marked the first time humans departed Earth orbit and traveled to the dark side of the moon. The Christmas Eve lunar orbit of Apollo 8 also marked one of most profoundly unifying moments for our nation. The journey to space was on everyone’s mind Christmas morning. And the fulfillment of man’s most ancient dream was illuminated by man’s most ancient text, while the entire world watched in wonder.

With the eventual landing of Apollo 11 on the surface of the moon, the achievement of Apollo 8 was nudged into the background. School textbooks teach about Apollo 11, but not Apollo 8. Yet the lunar landing of Apollo 11 merely capped off the journey of Apollo 8. As the world watched on live television, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders departed Earth orbit for space and orbited the moon for the first time.

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