43 years ago today, humanity achieved perhaps its greatest achievement when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin successfully landed on the moon. Against all odds, NASA was able to get the two men, plus command module pilot Michael Collins to the moon and back.
Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch, but did you know that in the event that a tragedy occurred during the mission, the Nixon administration prepared a special speech to honor the brave astronauts who would not be able to come home? Here, courtesy of the National Archives and Letters of Note is William Safire’s beautiful speech that Nixon would have read “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 the 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 the 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 COMMUNICATIONS 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.
- 3 ounces Bourbon
- 1 ounce Kahlúa
- 1 ounce cream
Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, strain in to a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.