Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Anticipating failure

Even grand, well-planned schemes can sometimes go awry and it is usually prudent to plan for the worst. On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to set foot on the moon. According to NASA, the landing and moon walks were not their primary concern. It was the take off from the moon's surface and rendezvous with the command module piloted by Michael Collins that was most troubling. If for any reason the mission failed, there was absolutely no hope of rescue. In anticipation of that possibility, President Nixon's speechwriter, William Safire, prepared the statement below. Fortunately, of course, it was never needed.

Click to enlarge

Transcription follows:
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 wil 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.

Found via Dan Lewis and "Now I Know"

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