2018, among other things, is the 50th anniversary of 1968, a year from Hell that made some people think that the end of civilization was nigh. It started with the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, proceeded with riots that convulsed American cities, including the famous battle at the Democratic National Convention, and the assassinations of two iconic leaders, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. Around the world, a leftist uprising in Paris occurred, and the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia, crushing a government that had gotten too independent from Moscow.

For you Millennials who think the last two years have been stressful, you should be thankful that you were not alive 50 years ago,

Yet, 1968 ended with something so sublime and beautiful that the heart is full just thinking about it. The mission of Apollo 8, which sent three astronauts in an Apollo capsule in orbit around the moon, was the first time anyone had gone beyond the low Earth orbit and visited the vicinity of another world. Apollo 8 was a prelude to the main event of Apollo 11 that was to take place less than a year later.

A documentary filmmaker named Paul Hildebrandt is putting together a movie about the mission called “First to the Moon – The Journey of Apollo 8,” He has a Kickstarter page up and is asking for $100,000 to finish the project and get it out in time for the 50th anniversary.

What was Apollo 8?

Apollo 8 was initially conceived as a test of the command module and lunar module in a medium Earth orbit in early 1969. Because the lunar module would not be ready by the time the mission was scheduled, NASA decided in August 1968 to send the command module only in orbit around the moon. To say that the new mission was bold and risky was to put the matter mildly.

Apollo 8 was a stunning success, both from a technical standpoint and a cultural one as well. The famous “Earthrise” photo was taken from the command module as it orbited the moon. The Christmas Eve broadcast, when the astronauts read from the Book of Genesis, as the lunar surface rolled past was like nothing that had ever been shown on live TV before.

After the horrors that 1968 featured, Apollo 8 was a balm for the hurts of the world.

What is 'First to the Moon'?

Paul Hildebrandt, who produced “The Fight for Space” a couple of years ago, is hard at work on a new project, “First to the Moon.” which will tell the story of Apollo 8. He has a lot of archival footage and interviews with the crew, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders. Hildebrandt has a Kickstarter page up where he is raising $100,000 to complete the film. He needs access to some news network footage, the money to pay an animator, and to complete a music score, among other things.

You can get to Hildebrandt’s page by going to Kickstarter and doing a search on “First to the Moon.” If you feel so inclined, pledge a few bucks to what is likely to be a worthy effort to commemorate one of the most significant events in the history of the world.