On the Moon Landing, Nixon Was Prepared For A Worst-Case Scenario

From the Daily Mail, a fascinating historical document that I had never seen before: in July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon for the first time. In those days, America’s space program took real risks–remember Apollo 13–and it was by no means certain that Armstrong and Aldrin, having landed on the moon, would be able to return. So William Safire, one of Richard Nixon’s speechwriters, prepared a statement that Nixon would have delivered if something had gone awry. It is, I think, an extraordinary document:

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“These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery.” Happily, they did make it back, but with hindsight, they probably didn’t get the credit they deserved for their courage. They would have known better than anyone that never coming home was a real possibility. And this may be a little over the top, but still, you have to like it: “…there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

America still produces plenty of brave men and women, but I am not sure that we as a country still have the courage to take such risks.


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