Sen. Bernie Sanders, taking a break from his onerous duties in the United States Senate, yesterday visited the site in Kecksburg, PA where an unidentified flying object reportedly landed in a farmer's field December 9, 1965.
I got wind of Sanders' impending visit from a source who insisted on not being named to discuss sensitive, inaccurate information, and so I drove through blizzards and ice storms to finally arrive just in time to greet the senator.
It was a frigid, sunny day when we met, with more than a foot of fluffy snow on the ground and clinging to the branches of the huge pine trees surrounding the acorn-shaped replica of the Kecksburg UFO, where we met.
The senator, bundled in a fluffy coat, his hands protected with brightly colored, handmade mittens, climbed a ladder and joined me on on a wooden platform high above the ground that held the acorn aloft, our feet dangling in the winter air.
"Senator, what do you think about this?" I asked Sanders. "Do you think a UFO really landed here?"
I wanted to know because as a young reporter I covered the reported landing of the object, and it's a story that simply won't let go. Another video company from Canada just called to interview me about what I thought. I didn't tell them about my Sanders interview, because I didn't want to get scooped.
"We are facing the worst public health crisis in 100 years and the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression," Sanders responded. "We are confronting systemic racism and the enormous threat to our planet of climate change."
"Thanks, Senator," I followed up like the determined reporter that I used to be. "But do you think a UFO landed here?"
"In response to the unprecedented crisis we face, we need an unprecedented response," Sanders replied.
"You mean to say that there is something to the reports that a UFO, shaped like an acorn with funny writing around the bottom, actually landed here? Do you think it was Russian? A lot of people think that."
"The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake," Sanders said.
The wise, elderly senator from Vermont seemed to be hinting that not only did a UFO land in Kecksburg so many years ago, but more such incidents may be in the offing and that they might actually threaten the future of our nation, even the world.
"Thankyou, Senator," was about all I could muster as we sat their, masked, properly socially distanced, he bundled against the cold, me in my t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, shivering as a brisk wind blew against my face.
"I should have dressed warmer," I thought. "I should have known better. After all, I used to live here."
This story has had a long tail.
It was a cold evening when I went into the Greensburg Tribune-Review that December night back in 1965 following an assignment, and the editor told me to go to Kecksburg to cover what could be "the story of the century."
I thought he was sending me on a wild goose chase because I was just a rookie, 23-year-old reporter. Maybe a form of hazing. But no, it was real -- at least the reports that "an object" had landed were real, and so were the armed soldiers who guarded the site.
For all these years, Kecksburg's UFO has remained a mystery.I had no idea back then that the story would be alive more than a half century later, and that Bernie Sanders actually would agree to be interviewed there.
That was a true highlight of my journalistic career.
Truly, the story of the century.