History Book: A prayer vigil in D.C. and space exploration


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, September 9th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book.

Today, a prayer vigil in Washington, D.C. ushers in a rare moment of solidarity. Plus, 35 years ago, a rookie pitcher breaks a long time record.

EICHER: But first, after many failed attempts, a man-made object finally reaches the moon. Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: In the 1950s, the exploration of space was the latest front in the cold war between the United States and the USSR. 

AUDIO: [Sound of Sputnik]

With the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the Russians got off to an early lead. Not satisfied with just orbiting the earth, both countries began talking about sending scientific equipment to the moon. Once again, the Russians were first off the launch pad. 

AUDIO: [Sound of rocket launch]

Luna was the USSR’s moon program. In the late 50s, it experienced many setbacks. Faulty engines, failed launches and miscalculated trajectories plagued early missions. But on September 14th, 1959, that all changed:  

NEWS REEL: Soviet Russia scores a dramatic victory in the exploration of space with the first rocket to hit the moon. A historic scientific feat…it is the first man-made object to voyage from one cosmic body to another…in one well-timed, spectacular move, Russia scores a major scientific advance. 

Back on earth, the mission data generated by the probe fills more than eight miles of teletype. The data is a goldmine of valuable information about conditions on the moon. 

NEWS REEL: Moscow shot for the moon, and scored a bullseye! 

It takes the U.S. space program six attempts and nearly five years to send its own probe to the moon. But in the 1960s, the Gemini and Apollo programs prove American superiority in the quest for space exploration. Both countries eventually cooperate in the 1970s with shared Space Station missions—bringing an end to the decades old space race. 

Next, September 12th, 1984. 

BROADCAST: Two balls, two strikes…the record! Dwight Gooden has set a new major league record for strikeouts by a rookie pitcher… and he is the first pitcher, 19 years of age, to have the chance to be the strike out leader… 

New York Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner. 

By the end of the 1984 season, Gooden racks up 30 more strikeouts—earning him the National League Rookie of the Year. His 276 freshman strikeouts is still a MLB record 35 years later. 

CLIP: The Mets attracted the biggest crowds they ever had for Spring Training this year, and Dwight was the man they came to see…

Gooden dominates the ‘85 season: winning the National League Cy Young award and the “Pitching Triple Crown”—one of only 38 pitchers to do so. He finishes the season with the most wins, the most strikeouts, and lowest earned run average. 

CLIP: It is his 13th complete game, and 6th shutout of the year…

After the 1986 season, Gooden’s career begins to fall apart due to substance abuse, arm fatigue, and injuries. He retires from baseball in 2001. He currently ranks 58th on the all time strikeout list. 

While he was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 20-10, it appears unlikely that he will ever make the cut for the Cooperstown honor.

And finally, September 14th, 2001.

JENNINGS: The respective military services with their colors. All those ribbons representing past conflicts…

Three days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, President Bush and many of the nation’s leaders gather at the Washington National Cathedral. During the ecumenical prayer service, the 82-year old Billy Graham is helped to the podium to comfort the country:

GRAHAM: No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September 11 will go down in our history as a Day to Remember. 

Graham says “God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.” He speaks of three important lessons through the tragedy. First, to consider the mystery and reality of evil. Second, the reminder of our need for each other. Third, even in the face of great evil, the reality of hope—hope for the present and hope for the future.

GRAHAM: My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and we will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us. We know also that God will give wisdom and courage and strength to the President and those around him. And this will be a day that we will remember as a Day of Victory. May God bless you all.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.


(Photo/National Geographic Society, Sputnik)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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