The Apollo 11 Unread Document

As Apollo 11's Command module "Columbia" departed our atmosphere on top of a Saturn V rocket that pushed them skyward with over 7.5 million pounds of thrust, accelerating to its en route speed of 25,000 miles per hour, the President's speechwriter William Safire composed a statement. July 18, 1969, the secret document was then placed on the Oval Office desk. It was a contingency speech, one President Nixon would only read if tragedy struck the Apollo 11 mission.

The astronauts knew there was a chance that Armstrong and Aldrin could remain stranded on the lunar surface or, if the engine didn't burn long enough, be lost in space, leaving Collins the sole survivor of the historic mission.

Following are the historic words that were, thankfully, never spoken...

"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."

President Richard M Nixon


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