Roswell’s Mysteries Are Life’s Mysteries
William Brazel strolled through the grassy pasture toward his flock of sheep. A July thunderstorm had swept across the desert the evening before, not an uncommon occurrence in that part of New Mexico, near Roswell. As the familiar bleating of sheep reached his ear, an unfamiliar sight caught his eye: Debris lay strewn about the land in front of him. The year was 1947.
A few days later, on July 8, a surreal headline appeared on the front page of The Roswell Daily Record newspaper. It said the military had captured a “flying saucer” on a ranch outside of town. The next day the Army corrected its news release. A weather balloon had crashed, not a flying disc. No longer would the sleepy little town of Roswell be known simply as the dairy capital of the Southwest.
Since the early ’90s a steady stream of tourists have passed through Roswell in search of the truth and souvenirs. Most locals would agree that government cover-ups are very good for business. Downtown Roswell is now home to half a dozen alien-themed souvenir shops located a stone’s throw from the International U.F.O. Museum and Research Center.
Last weekend the town of Roswell turned out to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the crash at the annual U.F.O. festival on Main Street. Prominent ufologists, including the nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman, gave lectures on the latest theories surrounding the Roswell incident. Families and their pets marched in the festival parade. Tourists plundered gift shops of their alien-shaped coffee mugs.
The longer one is in Roswell, the harder it becomes to avoid trying to answer the question, Did an alien spacecraft really crash to earth 70 years ago? Are we all alone in the universe? Does any of this even matter?
Luke Sharrett for The New York Times
Perhaps the more meaningful question is deeper and more pressing. In Roswell, some of humanity’s foundational yearnings hide in plain sight. Look no farther than the tourist-trap T-shirt rack: “The truth is out there.” “I want to believe.” “Aliens please abduct me.”
Absolute truth exists. Our souls long for something to believe in. Things here on earth are not as they should be. The T-shirts know. We are desperate to find meaning in our lives. We search for answers to the tough questions. Who are we? Why are we here? Who will heal our messed-up world?