What happened at Roswell 75 years ago?
The front page of the July 8, 1947 “Roswell (New Mexico) Daily Record” seized the American imagination with the headline “RAAF (Roswell Army Air Field) Captures Flying Saucer.”
That announcement added fuel to the saucer craze of summer 1947 (“Keep your raccoon coats, grandpa – we’ve got Martians!”). But to the disappointment of believers in extraterrestrial visitors, the military issued a retraction the very next day, asserting that the debris found by rancher W.W. “Mac” Brazel was merely a run-of-the-mill weather balloon. (“Nothing to see here. Move along…but not like those slimy little…never mind!”)
I’m not implying anything, but Uncle Sam has historically displayed a penchant for playing the “weather balloon” gambit when handling unpleasantries. (“You claim we signed a treaty, Sitting Bull? No, no, that was a weather balloon we signed, silly!”)
Most people have forgotten, but the military also demanded several other “Daily Record” retractions that week, thus explaining the newspaper’s abrupt discovery that Wimpy was really a vegetarian and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was in fact America’s premier ballerina.
Despite some initial objections from area residents, “the Roswell incident” was mostly ignored until the late 1970s, when UFO researchers thrust the clarification-slash-coverup back into the public consciousness.
Even with all the paranormal books and podcasts on the market, the average citizen is fuzzy concerning exactly what conspiracy theorists claim happened near Roswell. People often mention child-size corpses, Area 51 and Men in Black when pressed to venture an opinion about Roswell, but those elements were not part of the original report. Lots of different things get mixed up in our memories over the span of more than seven decades.
Don’t believe me? One enthusiast was getting all worked up over an alleged Roswell crash survivor who — over the course of years of staying undercover — heroically saved Timmy from the well, tracked down the one-armed man, became stepfather of three very lovely girls and enjoyed some degree of dignity until one Cosmo Kramer dropped a Junior Mint into his body cavity during his alien autopsy.
In the 1990s, the Pentagon tried to drive a stake through the heart of the controversy by changing its story again, to confess that what crashed was really a Cold War device used to spy on potential Soviet nuclear tests. Oh, scampish Pentagon – where greetings of “Workin’ hard or hardly workin’?” get met with “I’ll have that declassified for you in 50 years.”
But the matter refuses to die, because of the steady drip of unearthed documents, deathbed confessions, Magic 8-Ball revelations, etc.
Proper vetting is still needed for some of the more sensational bombshells. Like the purported contraband singed license plate that declares, “I brake for freakishly tall, pink-skinned oxygen-breathers.” Or the diary with an entry about a rancher listening to his shortwave radio one night in July 1947 and hearing a garbled message that sounded something like “Hold on to your tentacles! Mom and dad are going to be so (perturbed)!”
I realize I’m abdicating my role as an influencer by not digging more deeply into this mystery myself. It fascinates me, but I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions and to decide how to commemorate the 75th anniversary of…whatever.
Yeah, I know “the truth is out there”; but my lovely wife, the air conditioner and episodes of the CW’s “Roswell, New Mexico” are in here!
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”