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Apollo 11: President Nixon had this secret speech prepared in case Armstrong and Aldrin didn’t come back

Nixon, who spoke with Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins after the successful moon landing, asked his speechwriter to write a second speech in case the astronauts were stranded on the moon.

In this image provided by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin poses for a photograph beside the U.S. flag deployed on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969.
In this image provided by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin poses for a photograph beside the U.S. flag deployed on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969.
Neil A. Armstrong, NASA

SALT LAKE CITY — President Richard Nixon had an entire speech written just in case something went wrong and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin didn't come back to Earth after landing on the moon.

Nixon, who spoke with Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins after the successful moon landing, asked his speechwriter, William Safire, to write a second speech in case things didn’t turn out as planned.

H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff, received the speech when it was no longer needed. It was later brought to the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, according to Fox News.

The speech — titled “In event of moon disaster” — specifically addressed Armstrong and Aldrin’s widows, as well as the rest of the country, Fox News reports.

Here’s the full speech:

  • "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."

Context: In a 1999 “Meet the Press” interview, Safire said that the speech would have been delivered if a disaster left Aldrin and Armstrong ”abandoned on the Moon,” which meant they would “either have to starve to death or commit suicide.”

Fortunately: The speech was never needed as the lunar landing was a successful mission.