White House speech writer Bill Safire was ready with the speech on July 18, 1969 and it was titled ‘In Event of Moon Disaster”, intended to be read by President Nixon on television.
The Hush Post: It was on this day 49 years ago that man first imprinted his footsteps on the moon- arguably humankind’s greatest ever achievement. Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon on Jully 20, 1969. However, lesser known is the fact that the then US President Richard Nixon had doubt that the astronauts would ever come back safe. Hence, the White House had got a condolence speech prepared in anticipation of a catastrophe. White House speech writer Bill Safire was ready with the speech on July 18, 1969 and it was titled ‘In Event of Moon Disaster”, intended to be read by President Nixon on television.
Here is the text of William Safire’s speech for President Richard Nixon in the event of a disaster besetting Apollo 11:
“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice. These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown. In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man. In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts. For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”
The speech, however, remained unspoken, as the three astronauts landed back on earth 6 days later on July 24, 1969. The speech was revealed after William Safire reflected on it in an op-ed essay in the New York Times on the 30th anniversary of Apollo 11’s successful mission to the moon. Safire, died in September 2009.