On July 8, 1947, Air Force Gen. Roger Ramey held a press event at the 8th Army Air Force headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, in which he allegedly changed the just-released story of a recovered crashed disk near Roswell, N.M., to that of a retrieved Rawin weather balloon.
To UFO believers, this marked the beginning of a 64-year cover-up by the U.S. government and other major foreign countries to deny or hide the reality that extraterrestrials have made contact with Earth.
Now, a group of UFO truthers is hoping to turn this date into one of revelation, not repression, by declaring July 8 as the first ever "World Disclosure Day."
It's an annual 24-hour period when pro-disclosure advocates like Stephen Bassett hope people will focus attention on an alleged truth embargo that he says has resulted in the withholding of knowledge by all major world governments about a supposed extraterrestrial presence here on Earth.
In addition, supporters are encouraged to discuss how things might change once an official announcement has been made and what policies should -- or have been -- enacted by world leaders post-disclosure.
Bassett is a registered lobbyist who runs the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee, an organization that since the late 1990s has been demanding Congress release information about the presence of aliens as soon as possible.
Among his accomplishments since he started his UFO activism include popularizing the term "truth embargo" instead of the old "UFO cover-up."
Although Bassett would like the U.S. to be the first country to declare the existence of aliens on this planet, he says there are at least a dozen countries that are on their way to doing so, such as Russia, China, Brazil, France and the United Kingdom.
"There was an arms race, a space race, and now we have a disclosure race," he told AOL Weird News in an email interview. "There are a dozen or so countries that might well effect disclosure tomorrow. It is hoped the Obama administration will become aware of this and take action."
As close as we may be to the official E.T. announcement, Bassett doesn't expect it to happen on "World Disclosure Day." At least not this year.
"The purpose of World Disclosure Day is to provide a focal point for people and organizations to come together to assert their right to know extraordinary information being withheld from them by their governments -- the truth embargo," he said. "World Disclosure Day will also help broaden public awareness of the disclosure process and those organizations involved in this advocacy work."
The date of July 8 wasn't pulled out of a hat, Bassett says. It is definitely meant to harken back to Gen. Ramey's original press conference in 1947.
"This was the informal beginning of the now 64-year truth embargo regarding an extraterrestrial presence," Bassett said. "For this reason, the date July 8 was chosen to emphasize the need to reverse that now inappropriate policy."
Although disclosure of an alien presence would be the biggest news story in modern history, Bassett doesn't expect his "UFO-liday" supporters to hold big events.
"At this point in time, you don't celebrate WDD, you participate in it," he said. "The first phase of developing this concept is acquiring endorsements from around the world. This is underway now. "
More than 1,700 endorsements have come in since July 1, when World Disclosure Day was announced, Bassett said. Endorsements are being sorted by the U.S. and international countries, and any endorsements from persons or organizations of special note will be highlighted in a separate section.
"It's still new, so the high-profile endorsements haven't come yet," he admitted.
It's true. Even people who do believe there has been an E.T. presence for decades, like Stanton Friedman, a nuclear physicist who was the first civilian to investigate the Roswell crash in the late 1970s, are skeptical about the concept, and warns that it doesn't consider all the questions that need to be answered in advance.
"I think the intentions are good but do not consider the many ramifications from a national security viewpoint and don't really deal with the difficulties," said Friedman, who on July 31 will be giving a speech entitled "Are We Ready For Contact?" to attendees at the Mutual UFO Network symposium in Irvine, Calif.
Friedman said that getting major world leaders to give up the secrets about extraterrestrials also requires them to possibly give up power (something they won't do easily).
"Will everybody be willing to share any technical information they may have learned and which almost by definition will involve serious military consequences?" he asked. "Nobody in power wants to give up power. Nationalism is the only game in town. Who would give up power? It seems to me that all leaders would feel they have more to lose than to gain by disclosure."
Bassett said that the announcement of World Disclosure Day is actually just the start of his plan.
The second phase will be developing as much public awareness as possible of WDD over the next 12 months, and also to educate people on what will happen after the extraterrestrial presence is announced.
Bassett said the revelations would require a new school of politics called exopolitics, the politics of dealing with extraterrestrials, something that people like Michael Salla, a scholar in international politics, conflict resolution and U.S. foreign policy, are already researching.
Salla said that it's imperative for the planet to have a plan just in case an E.T. decides to make Earth his new home.
"It's not necessary to assume E.T.s are real, just possible," Salla told AOL Weird News. "Then you prepare for it and think through all the issues."
According to Salla, those issues include deciding how the alien presence would be announced (he advocates announcing the presence of microbes and working up to more sentient beings), and who would be in control -- a secret committee or a corporate entity.
Even more important: If the E.T.s have superior technology, should they be forced to share it?
Of course, another big issue is determining the protocol for contact between humans and aliens, lest either side be exposed to strange viruses, a Romeo and Juliet situation between Martians and Earthlings -- or worse.
"A big question is how will humans interact with aliens," Salla said. "If someone is threatened by one, will they take a shot at them while driving by? And, if so, will this be as illegal as shooting a human?"
But while these pioneering exo-politicians figure out the answers to these questions, the truth is that the current economic and political climate on Earth drastically affects if and when disclosure happens, according to Bassett.
"The election of Barack Obama helps disclosure because he, unlike George Bush or Bill Clinton, is acceptable to the military/intelligence managers as a disclosure president," Bassett said. "Recent nuclear reduction treaties also helped by reducing instability and tensions, thus creating a safer disclosure transition."
Bassett said the unfolding economic collapse in Europe and the United States are also hindering disclosure, because "that creates great uncertainty and gets politicos running scared."
Surprisingly, Bassett said the recent suspension of funding for the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program by NASA is actually a good thing for disclosure advocates like him.
"SETI was created as a propaganda front to take pressure off the government.," Bassett said. "It would have looked awkward if there was not an effort to 'look for extraterrestrials.'
"It was funded by NASA," he added. "When it was launched the government already knew E.T.s were here. Do the math. Later on, members of the SETI program would debunk UFO research and researchers, etc. SETI is one of the worst corruptions of science ever."
SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostack declined to comment on Bassett's remarks.
Meanwhile, another disclosure supporter, Bryce Zabel, hopes that true believers take inspiration from the recent Arab Spring in the Middle East.
"The Arab Spring, while not totally related to disclosure, is a great model," said Zabel, the creator of "Dark Skies," a UFO conspiracy theory-based sci-fi television series that aired on NBC between 1996 and 1997. "When people want something, they will take to the streets and get it. Substitute Area 51 for Tahir Square and you get the picture."
However, some skeptics, such as Joe Nickell of the Center for Skeptical Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y., thinks having 100 World Disclosure Days over the next century won't make a bit of a difference if there is nothing to disclose.
"There's no such evidence for these claims," he said. "All of the claims that aliens exist and are being hidden somewhere are fantasies and hoaxes. A lot of conspiracy theories like this are un-American, and this is very similar to the Obama birth certificate claims."