On or around June 14, 1947, something fell from the skies above New Mexico, strewing wreckage and debris across land belonging to a foreman named William Brazel. He gathered up the strange metallic materials (just what exactly he gathered varies depending on who you believe) and eventually made his way to a nearby town some 30 miles away.

That nearby town’s name would soon come to live in infamy as among the most well known UFO stories in history. The Roswell incident, in the minds of many, served as the impetus for a resurgence in UFO interest, and perhaps even hysteria, throughout the United States. Timing, of course, is important when it comes to stories like Roswell, and it couldn’t have come at a better one for such a legend to germinate: reports of unidentified flying objects called “foo fighters” had made their way back from the European theater only a few years prior, as had the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The world was changing in vast and dramatic ways, with a generation that had seen the turn of the century, the rise of the automobile, and invention of the television also presiding over the single most destructive power ever unleashed in the history of mankind. The mid-20th century in the United States was a time of rapid advancement, a rapidly developing Cold War, and a populous more willing to believe in the incredible after having seen it for themselves in the form of doomsday weapons and kitchen conveniences.

Of course, it never hurts to give these legends a little kick start. In early July, as the U.S. Army got involved in gathering up and trying to explain the debris Brazel found on his land, they released a public press release to the local paper, relaying the details they’d gathered thus far.