By Randy Fox
Forty years ago, America seemed on the edge of disaster. The country's involvement in the Vietnam War drew to a close without even an illusion of victory. The vice president resigned in disgrace. The president was embroiled in a scandal that seemed almost certain to end with charges of impeachment. A war was raging in the Middle East between Israel and Egypt. Arab oil-producing countries announced an embargo against the United States for its support of Israel, and gas prices soared. Misunderstandings between the U.S. and the Soviet Union regarding the war pushed the two countries to the brink of nuclear confrontation, with the U.S. military on DEFCON 3 alert for first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.
And amidst all this chaos, aliens descended on Dixie.
The fall of 1973 brought one of the largest waves of UFO sightings in U.S. history. Hundreds of reports poured in to news outlets across the country, with the greatest concentration in the Southeast. And Tennessee was no exception. Newspaper accounts chronicle unknown objects in the night skies and even a few reports of "high strangeness" on the ground. September and October became an "Autumn of Aliens" as adults shook their heads in disbelief and kids gobbled up the news with a mixture of excitement, wonder and fear.
In Nashville, the encounters began on Sept. 3, 1973: The Tennessean reported a sighting by a South Nashville homemaker and her three children, who described a distant light that changed colors, then a red triangular object with three white lights moving rapidly across the sky. Metro police investigated but proclaimed the lights to be out of their jurisdiction.
Perhaps because of MNPD's declaration, reports in Nashville didn't attract much attention for the next few weeks. But West Tennessee law enforcement apparently didn't get the memo. On Sept. 25, The Tennessean reported that Shelby County deputies in Memphis spotted a whirring, hovering craft sweeping the ground with two white spotlights. Later in the week, similar objects were reported by sheriffs in Lauderdale and Obion counties. Judging by news reports, the UFOs seemed to be edging closer to Middle Tennessee, making their first landfall in Giles County on Oct. 1. The Pulaski Citizen reported that three teenage boys witnessed the landing of an egg-shaped craft near the Anthony Hill community and a large, hairy, stiffly walking occupant. . . .
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