On Monday, local high school students, a parent and Lovell, who lives in suburban Chicago, each read a few verses. Gov. Pat Quinn hosted the event, calling the broadcast an uplifting message that the country needed in 1968 and one that is still applicable today.
After the Christmastime broadcast, atheist leader Madalyn Murray O’Hair filed a lawsuit against NASA, alleging First Amendment violations. But the case was dismissed, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.
Lovell said at the time the astronauts weren’t sure who would be listening and how the broadcast would be taken. He said Monday he thought it’d still be received well and noted the lawsuit during a news conference.
He pointed out the high court’s decision, saying, “They said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’”
The famous “Earthrise” photo, which shows the Earth shining over the moon’s horizon, was also taken during the mission.
The Apollo 8 mission laid the groundwork for U.S. astronauts walking on the moon in 1969. The Apollo 8 capsule, which is the centerpiece of the museum’s space center, first arrived there in 1971.
Lovell, now 85, took part in several missions, including as pilot in the Gemini 7 flight in 1965, the command module pilot on Apollo 8 and a commander of Apollo 13.
He closed Monday with the same message the astronauts did in 1968.
“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,” Lovell said.