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)