A Brief History
On July 8, 1947, the local Roswell newspaper reported the crash of a UFO outside of town, calling it a “flying saucer.” The public belief that an extraterrestrial vehicle had crashed and been taken by the Air Force was reinforced by a press release issued by Roswell Army Air Field spokesman Walter Haut saying the Army had recovered a “flying disk.”
Later government and military assertions that the object recovered had been a top secret observation balloon or weather balloon did not sway the opinion of much of the public. The display of the alleged debris, consisting of pieces of what would be such a balloon and its cargo also failed to convince doubters.
Thirty years after the incident, Major Jesse Marcel, an officer who had been part of the recovery team of the crashed object told an interviewer that he believed the debris was that of an alien craft. The controversy over the incident was reignited in a big way, and in 1980 the National Enquirer ran the story and the Marcel interview. Claims of the government recovering and keeping the bodies of dead aliens or even live surviving aliens were rampant.
Public distrust of the government’s explanation resulted in Air Force investigations, the results of which were released in 1995 and another in 1997. The investigations concluded that the debris recovered was that of the secret balloon experiment and that the testimony of military personnel regarding the recovery of alien corpses was only fuzzy memories confusing human fatalities from test flights and early versions of crash test dummies used in unmanned test flights of various vehicles.
The publicity generated by these investigations and accusations of government cover ups encouraged witnesses from the military and the public to come forth and discuss what they had actually seen at the time, sparking further interest. The Roswell Incident became the most famous UFO incident in history and continues to boil with allegations of various government lies and activities.
Popular culture has taken Roswell to its heart, with books, movies, television “specials” and innumerable references to the incident. Of course, along the way the buzz surrounding the incident turned into many other incidents and increasingly elaborate details of what had supposedly happened. The entire subject of Roswell and the “alien UFO crash” as well as the purported recovery of aliens or their bodies and “alien autopsy” has become a cultural phenomenon.
Meanwhile, the government and skeptics of the conspiracy theorists claim to poke holes in the accounts of witnesses, showing alleged inconsistencies and accusing them of faulty memory or just making stuff up. Two skeptics published a theory about the creation of a “myth” surrounding the Roswell incident they called “Roswellian Syndrome.” Even some ardent UFO researchers discount the Roswell incident as not a genuine UFO encounter, while on the other hand government officials (such as the New Mexico governor) have been rebuffed by the government when trying to access government files under the cover of official secrets.
Meanwhile, the controversy rages on, and popular culture continues to inundate us with one Roswell related story or movie after another. What is the real truth? With the government withholding some key information, it is impossible to say. What do you think?
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