On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon.
Thirty years after Apollo 11’s successful moon landing, an undelivered speech prepared for President Richard Nixon came to light.
Discovered in the archives of the Nixon Administration by the historian James Mann in 1999, the speech was composed by Nixon’s then speechwriter, William Safire, to be used in the event of a disaster that would maroon the astronauts on the moon.
The speech was sent to President Nixon’s Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman.
The full text and a PDF version of the contemporary document are shown below.
July 18, 1999: Listen to William Safire discuss the speech with Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet The Press (3m):
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.