Here's an excerpt from a speech that Richard Nixon did not have to give forty years ago today…
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.
That speech was written by William Safire, based upon the recommendation of astronaut Frank Borman, who knew all too well how dangerous the Apollo mission actually was.
Seems a shame that a perfectly good speech like that went to waste just because two human beings didn't end up asphyxiated and dessicated on the surface of a cold and barren alien landscape. Maybe they could have recycled the speech for some other huge American disaster.
Though — on second thought — I suppose it would have been kind of weird for Nixon to keep going on about the moon during his re-inauguration speech.*
(via Politics Daily)
See also: Jim Stallard's Live from the Apollo 11 on McSweeney's.
* Speaking of disasters… Believe it or not, that was the best punchline I could come up with. And, what's sad is that I really tried hard.
Tags: NASA, Richard Nixon, Science & Technology, William Safire