Have you heard about the GREATEST SPEECH NEVER MADE? At the Nixon Presidential Library some years ago, documents were released, having been classified for decades. Most people were of course interested in the all the documents related to Watergate.
But lost in the vast array of information was a speech that contains what I consider one of the greatest pieces of English prose ever written. It’s a speech that was never made. It was a speech, written as a contingency, if the first lunar landing had failed.
Now, remember going to the moon back then was very dangerous. The calculations must be precise, and computers were almost non-existent. The equipment was primitive by today’s standards, and remember that this was all shown on live TV.
The most dangerous part of the mission was not the take-off from Cape Canaveral or the lunar landing itself. The most dangerous maneuver was when the lunar module had to take off from the moon to reunite the Lunar Orbiter. There was only one chance to do this.
But, what if it had not worked? What if two astronauts had been left on the moon, stranded. To live for a few hours or days, and then to die all while a horrified worldwide TV audience was watching!
This short speech was written for President Nixon to deliver should that tragic event occur. Again, it in my opinion is one of the most beautiful passages that I’ve ever read in the English language. And now, a little over fifty year later, I want you to read what I call, The Greatest Speech Never Made.
“My fellow Americans. 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.”