Apollo 8's Accomplishments
When Apollo 8 returned to Earth, people worldwide hailed the astronauts as heroes. Coming at the end of a year filled with political turmoil, riots, and assassinations, NASA's achievement provided much-needed good news. From President Lyndon Johnson to the Pope, everyone had something good to say about the successful mission.
The New York Times, December 28, 1968
World's Leaders Hail Apollo Feat
President [Lyndon] Johnson was joined by leaders of many nations in congratulating the Apollo 8 crewmen yesterday after the three astronauts had splashed down in the Pacific.
"You have made us very proud to be alive at this particular moment in history," Mr. Johnson said in a message to the astronauts aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown.
He said their feat had made "us feel akin" to the Europeans of five centuries ago who learned of the New World for the first time.
The New York Times, December 23, 1968
Even the Russians, who had criticized the voyage as risky on Saturday, acknowledged the historic moon trip. In the Soviet Union the smiling faces of the Apollo 8 astronauts appeared in Central Soviet papers.
The [London] Times, December 23, 1968
Pope Paul VI: "We open the window and instinctively the eye, the thought, the heart, go to the heavens. Their thoughts were drawn there by the fascination of America's manned flight to the moon and the three astronauts' task of 'celestial exploration.' We pray to the Lord for them, and for the world, which is dazed at the conquests of science and of human endeavour."
The Sydney Morning Herald, December 28, 1968
The Good Earth
...[The Apollo 8 mission] ranks among history's most awesome achievements. It came fittingly at Christmas, when other men in far-off days looked with equal hope and wonder to the skies. For the implications of our first voyage to another world are profoundly religious, prompting the most elemental reflections on man's place in the universe and the mysteries of his origin, his consciousness, his identity, and his purpose...
We are alone on what Lovell, Borman and Anders simply and fervently described, as they sent us their Christmas message, as "the good earth." We are alone with hunger and disease, with Vietnam and Biafra, with Shakespeare and Beethoven, Wordsworth and Mozart, with all our earthly problems, hopes, and fears...
The [London] Times, December 28, 1968
Apollo has the deeper meaning that man is still willing and able to struggle with the almost impossible. The fringe benefits to science, industry, and national aggrandizement are an acceptable bonus for an age which so often submerges the vision of man in the search for cost effectiveness... The lesson of Apollo 8 is that in spite of the troubles of the world, man is still capable of attempting and carrying to success tomorrow exploits which today seem impossible.
The Vietnam Guardian, December 28, 1968
The fates of Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Magellan, and Columbus pale into the gossamer of a Boy Scout hike compared to the accomplishment of Apollo 8. What a testimony to the potential of the human species! What a glory for mankind! It is such a glorious feat that it will take days, weeks, even months for us to grasp the magnitude of the accomplishment.
At a time when we are thirsty for peace as a dying man for water, we can take time out to lift up our spirit for this momentous occasion. It is incredibly joyful that we can be like the second of the prisoners who looked out from behind the prison bars: "one saw mud and the other saw stars." We have stars in our eyes now.
The New York Times, December 23, 1968
In Britain, The Sunday Times, long considered the nation's most stately paper, devoted almost the entire front page of the story and another paper editorialized that "it's hard to write about the pound [referring to Britain's financial crisis] when the Apollo flight is thrilling us all."
Le Journal du Dimanche in Paris termed the trip "the most fantastic story in all human history" and said if all went according to plan, Apollo 8 finally would put the United States ahead of the Russians in the space race.
All of Madrid's five papers gave massive coverage to the flight.
In Czechoslovakia, the nation's top space expert, Prof. Rudolf Pesek, compared the Apollo flight to the sensational transatlantic flight 41 years ago by Charles Lindbergh.
Newspapers in Hong Kong focused on the fact that William Anders was born here. "Hong Kong Man on Way to Moon" one headline read.
In West Germany a Hamburg paper, Welt am Sonntag, compared the expenditure for the flight to the jewels Queen Isabella of Spain sold to finance the voyage of Christopher Columbus.