We all that Apollo 11 was a tremendous success and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were able to walk on Moon and ultimately, return to Earth. But have you ever wondered what would happen if they both couldn’t come back?
President Richard Nixon was the one who delivered a speech to Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins after the successful lunar landing. He made a smart move, and he asked his speechwriter, William Safire, to write a contingency speech should something go wrong. This speech was delivered to Nixon’s Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman and is now housed at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
Nixon’s lecture entitled “IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER,” would address the whole nation specially addresses Armstrong and Aldrin’s widows. Nixon’s speech would start with, “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.” He continued his speech and said, “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 humanity in their sacrifice.”
In an interview with the Meet the Press, Safire said that Aldrin and Armstrong would be “abandoned on the Moon” and “either have to starve to death or commit suicide.”
If something has gone wrong, then Nixon would have to go to say that
“Others will follow, and surely find their way home,” but the memory of Aldrin and Armstrong would be honored forever, as “these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.”
But thanks God nothing went wrong, and both Armstrong and Aldrin landed safely. Fortunately that the speech was never needed. The former president ended the speech by calling the three astronauts and thanked them for their successful mission, saying “because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world.”