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- Written on: October 2nd, 2009
William Safire’s recent death has stirred an interest in the speeches he wrote over his many years in public service.
However it is rare to read the draft of a speech that was never delivered – let alone a speech that was to be delivered in the event of an unspeakable tragedy that could have actually happened.
Below is a transcript of the William Safire speech written for President Richard Nixon to deliver to the nation in the event the Apollo 11 astronauts became stranded on the moon.
To: H. R. Halderman
From: Bill Safire
July 18, 1969
IN THE 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 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 their 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 THESE 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.
Thank God that speech was never needed.