In the years following World War II, the appearance in the skies of objects which came to be known as unidentified flying objects - or UFOs - became a regular feature of American life. Many of the sightings involved reports in which the citizen observing described the objects as being disk or saucer shaped. The term "flying saucer" was born.
The incident near Roswell is most significant because the initial reports which were published and broadcast nationwide clearly stated that some kind of space ship had crashed there. Materials from the crash were described, which materials appeared to observers as not being of this world. Other reports from local citizens involved small bodies which were reportedly found in the wreckage. According to such local witnesses, the bodies were the size of children.
United States military immediately descended upon Roswell, and in the flurry of activity which followed, a new story emerged. The new story was that a weather balloon, not a flying saucer, had been found. A military officer involved in the original story changed what he had to say. Photos taken of a weather balloon were decimated to the public through media.
Local citizens in Roswell reported that they had been strong armed into complying with government and military officials to recant their prior stories. Some claimed their lives and those of their families had been threatened.
For those who find UFOs and their history (or mythology) interesting, Roswell became the centerpiece of an ongoing controversy between those citizens who believe UFOs exist and may contain extra terrestrial life and those who find a rational and worldly explanation for reported events.
There have been many television shows, many movies, and many written pieces which explore UFOs in general, and Roswell in particular. I grew up on such television shows and films. From "The Outer Limits" to "The Twilight Zone" to "The X-Files" to "Men in Black," popular culture has embraced the UFO culture.
Fox Mulder, the fictional FBI agent from TV's "The X-Files" famously held that "the truth is out there." That statement is a mantra for those who believe.
Roswell, New Mexico has made the UFO phenomenon a centerpiece of the city's tourism. Literally from one end of the town to the other, UFOs and little grey or green men appear in the advertising of businesses. There is a very cool UFO museum in the middle of town. No matter what one believes on the topic, Roswell has made it fun to journey into that unknown. Restaurants in particular display movie posters and other indicia of popular culture's vision of UFOs.
I don't know what the truth is regarding UFOs. I do not dismiss the reports, however. They can't all be swamp gas, or weather inversions, or weather balloons, or birds flying in formation, or the planet Jupiter, or misidentified commercial or military aircraft. If you're driving in New Mexico and you find yourself near Roswell, take the time to drop by their UFO Museum and ponder the evidence they have on display. Then get in on the fun they have with the topic while you eat lunch among the UFO posters.
© 2014, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.