Image displaying the opening words of Richard Nixon’s speech “In Event of a Moon Disaster,” which would be given if Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin died, or would die, on the Moon. Image via (source).

We all remember the words softly uttered by Neil Armstrong as he took his first steps on the Moon: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” However, Richard Nixon had another (very different) statement prepared. In the event of a major catastrophe, one that would result in the deaths of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin while the pair was on the surface of the Moon, Nixon would broadcast the following message to the mourning nations of Earth:

“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…”

Reading Nixon’s full speech leaves one feeling sublime, sad, inspired, and a million other emotions. It is oddly harrowing, perhaps because it forces us to acknowledge that things could have gone very differently—that the most iconic words from the Apollo 11 mission might not have been the phrase that Armstrong spoke as he leapt down to the dusty surface of the Moon,but the words quietly given by Nixon to commemorate our dead.

Read the full speech below:

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.


 

Related FQTQ Articles:

Moon Landing: Fact or Fiction 

Know Your Scientist: Neil Armstrong

Apollo Landing Site From Lunar Orbit 


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