“For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there si some corner of another world that is for ever mankind.”
President Nixon’s Prepared Text in Case of the Apollo XI Moon Landing Ended in Tragedy was happily never delivered. The speech was revealed in 1999, 30 years after the headlines of “Men Walk on the Moon” on every newspaper around the world. Nixon’s speech writer, William Safire (also the author of the book I am currently reading, Lend Me Your Ears), wrote in case of high risk of module’s malfunctions that the astronauts were not able to return.
This short address may not be a full speech. However, within a few paragraphs, readers could experience how the context of a dreaded dramatic occasion can make memorable words.
One word has an important role in this address: but. Here are a few examples of how William Safire creates personal and greater meaning with “but”:
“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.” The first half of this quote presents fact and the second half adds a positive message on a greater level.
“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” This time, Safire adds the element of romanticism and, by using “but”, he creates the meaning of that the bravery of these heroes is eternal like the starts.
“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” This quote adds a sense of hope for the readers. With “but” and the following, it comes back with the meaning of eternity in every future person’s memory.
A video simulation of president Nixon delivering the speech: