To The Reader's Forum:
Forty-five years ago, this December, three people with nothing but thin metal and the vacuum of space between themselves and oblivion reached out, for the first time in all of human history, to brush past another heavenly body.
The year that event took place was a tragic one for the world, with the untimely deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, and it would see many more lives done too soon by the long struggle in Vietnam.
That year was especially hard on my family.
It was the year my grandmother died. I was 10 and I'd helped in the clean-up process of my grandparents' home that summer.
By December, Grand Dad had gone to live with my father's sister in Kenmore, N.Y., and the home he'd shared with my grandmother for so long was soon rented to a family who would become our new neighbors.
It would have been a very tough holiday season had it not been for those three human beings in Apollo 8 circling the moon.
I hung on every scrap of news about their incredible journey.
I remember them reading, for all the world, a creation story from the book of Genesis.
To a young boy being raised in a Christian home about to celebrate Christmas, for the first time without his grandma, their words were a comfort. But I believe, even for non-Christians, it was next to impossible not to see the images from their tiny spaceship of our beautiful jewel of a world, hanging there alone in that sea of black, and not realize that we are all one, together, regardless of our beliefs and differences.
This year's Christmas will be tough for my family as well, because it finds this December as one in which my children lost their grandmother. My oldest two, Jessy and Shena are all grown up with families of their own but my youngest, Morgan, is bearing her loss especially hard with tears, true, but with wisdom far beyond her 15 years of age.
They say that parents are their children's first teachers and for the most part that has been the case in our family, but no child or student has taught me more about how to strive toward living life for a better purpose than she.
Where I would normally cut and run from those who would do me harm, she has proven to have a very strong conviction towards forgiveness.
She continually opens her heart to great risk out of her undeniable love for those around her.
She amazed me the morning of my mother's funeral by presenting me with her wish list for this Christmas.
On the top of her list was one wish that stood out: she wished that she could name a star after her grandmother for all her family's sake. Like her grandmother before her, she has such a gentle, selfless, loving soul.
So Morgan-my teacher-for your family, thank you for your lesson in humanity.
There is now a star in the heavens which bears your grandmother's heavenly name of Celeste at Coordinates: RA 23h12m22.84 +44?45'46.9'' dec 9.97 mag. Registration code: WWB549774 from the Online Star Register
And for you, I pledge to be more accepting and forgiving of others and I would like to add a Holiday wish of my own. Regardless of our race, religion, non-religion, creed or origin, I wish that each of us, in this small, fragile world of ours can learn more how to work together at coexisting, as opposed to warring with one another.
Can we make a brighter future on planet earth, if not for us, for the sake of all our children?
It could happen.
Happy Holidays to all.
Kyle R. Anderson