I can tell you hardly any of my friends remember the year 1968. Most of my friends weren’t even born then, and those who were were in their early years of life. History tells us, however, that 1968 was a horrible year. April of that year saw the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. June saw the assassination of Robert Kennedy. And throughout the year there were riots, and fires, and crimes, and a lot of bad things.

It should be noted, however that the Tigers did win the World Series that year. And, in December of ’68, NASA launched Apollo 8, the first manned vehicle that entered lunar orbit. Three men sailed 60 miles above the surface of the moon and took the first picture of “Earthrise.” As the broadcast what they saw, it seemed for a brief moment in that year, that we all gathered as one peaceful people.

That was 40 years ago today. 40 years later, those of us in Michigan are ending a pretty crappy year (another budget shutdown, high unemployment, and hardly any leadership to be found around these parts). On a very personal note, I am ending a very crappy year where I lost a number of people who I held in my heart (Dr. Diether Haenicke, Coach Dick Soisson, and my sister Jennifer Worthams).

But as bad as it seems, I think back to the ’68 Tigers’ and to Apollo 8 and I have to smile. I have to smile because at the end of 2009, things are going to be better. I have faith that they will. When I think of what mankind has achieved in our short time on this planet … crappy years can not hold us down.

And so, on this Christmas Eve, I share with you this clip from the HBO series From Earth to the Moon. This scene is a reenactment of the reading that Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman broadcast to the people of the planet Earth. And I say along with them, God Bless You – You on the Good Earth.

For those who will be reading this through Facebook, here’s the transcript of what was read:

William 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 heavens 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.”