It was on this date in 1947 that the Roswell (New Mexico) Daily Record newspaper reported that a flying saucer had crashed near the local Army base. In the coming days, a local rancher found pieces of a strange, lightweight metal scattered over the local hills, and an Army public information officer put out a statement claiming that the Army had recovered the wreckage of a "flying disc" - a statement later contradicted by an Air Force spokesman who claimed the recovered wreckage was that of a weather balloon.
Over the years, the Roswell flying saucer story has grown and morphed with added details: that the bodies of the alien crew were recovered and are in storage at (insert "CIA headquarters" or your military facility of choice), that the Air Force reverse-engineered the wrecked flying saucer and has a "ghost squadron" of such vehicles waiting to prevail in a future war, that one or more of the alien crew survived and is being kept in a secret facility as an advisor to the Department of Defense. Earlier this year, in her book titled Area 51, author Annie Jacobsen claimed that the bodies recovered at the crash site were the results of a joint attempt by Joseph Stalin and Nazi doctor Josef Mengele to produce a race of child-sized warriors to crew miniature warplanes.
The idea that there are other worlds out there, inhabited by creatures that do not necessarily have our best interests at heart, is a staple of science fiction. H.G. Wells' famous novel The War of the Worlds is one of the classics of alien invasion literature, and has been filmed several times - in 1953 and again in the 2005 special effects extravaganza starring Tom Cruise. Another classic of the genre was The Day the Earth Stood Still, first filmed in 1951, and later remade (poorly, in my opinion) in 2008. Better than both of those films was the original novella on which both movies were based - Farewell to the Master, by Harry Bates. There was also the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day, which featured this scene beloved of modern-day Republicans:
Today, of course, the real threat of alien invasion comes not from outer space, but from other places here on earth ... but that's another story.
Have a good day. Watch out for flying saucers. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday.