Kicker: In event of moon disaster

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s been 49 years since Apollo 11, the successful NASA mission that sent Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon and, thankfully, back safely.

Those of a certain age may remember President Richard Nixon’s phone call to the astronauts from the Oval Office.

NIXON: I just can’t tell you how proud we all are of what you have done. For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives.

The White House was equally ready for tragedy.

Presidential speechwriter William Safire prepared a moving address, “IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER.” We’ll have a link to the whole thing on

But here are a few lines of it, as read by actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

CUMBERBATCH: 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.

Of course, the president never had to deliver that speech — as history recorded the mission a resounding success.

Instead, these are the words we remember:

ARMSTRONG: It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

(Photo/NASA, Johnson Space Center) Charles “Pete” Conrad stands with the United States flag on the lunar surface on November 19, 1969. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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