Fifty years ago, Christmas was. like it is this year, a welcome balm. 1968 was a year when we thought the United States might get ripped apart, even as it seems now. But it ended up with something that while not a miracle, was about as close as men have ever come, Apollo 8 orbited the moon. The chant USA wasn’t invented till the1980 Olympics, but that is how it felt.  Howard Chang and Jordan Lorence writing in The Federalist reminds us how it happened.

Many say Apollo 8 redeemed 1968. The first manned space mission to circle the Moon did so on Christmas Eve, and gave hope to weary millions jolted by the chaotic tumult of events in 1968.

The year that ended with the unifying wonder of Apollo 8 began with the aggressive attacks of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam in late January, followed by the assassinations of…

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