Nixon's heartbreaking (and thankfully unneeded) Apollo 11 eulogy

Fearing the worst possible outcome of the first lunar landing mission—that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would be marooned on the moon—presidential speechwriter William Safire wrote a memo detailing what President Nixon should say to a grieving nation.

Safire's words, as detailed in a June 18, 1969, memo, are impossibly moving: "In ancient days, men looked at the 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." They're a somber reminder that great oratory has the power to fill hearts, and that the Apollo missions walked the balance between success and failure on a razor's edge.

And a peek into an alternate universe that, thankfully, never came to pass.

(via Letters of Note)

Related Stories

Stunning design for vertical launch plane looks like something straight out of science fiction Trent Moore

We’ve been flying airplanes for more than 100 years, and we’re still waiting for something like the retro future of our dreams. Well, the aviation firm XTI hopes to change that.

The cutting edge tech NASA will use to pinpoint an eventual manned Mars landing Trent Moore

It’s a funny thing: We have the technology to launch and fly a craft all the way from our planet to other parts of the solar system, but one of the trickiest parts is sticking the landing.

Stephen Hawking's new theory gives us hope if ever stuck in a black hole Jeff Spry

Entering the most destructive force in the universe may have an unexpected outcome.