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William Safire memo for use by President Nixon in the event of a disaster on the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission
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IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER

As everyone knows, the Apollo 11 astronauts returned safely from their historic moon landing mission on July 24, 1969. But what if there had been a malfunction and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had been stranded on the lunar surface without hope of rescue? Nixon speechwriter William Safire drafted a speech to cover just such a catastrophic scenario:

To: H.R. Haldeman

From: Bill Safire

July 18, 1969

IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:

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.

PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT:

The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.

AFTER THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT, AT THE POINT WHEN NASA ENDS COMMUNICATION WITH THE MEN:

A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to "the deepest of the deep," concluding with the Lord's Prayer.

The Watergate Info site has audio of Safire discussing the moon speech with Tim Russert and admitting that he is also responsible for the first grammatical error in space (on the plaque that was placed on the moon). The audio link is at the bottom of the page.
IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER
William Safire
July 18, 1969

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