Fans of the late William Safire know that before he was a the New York Times Magazine “On Language” columnist, he was a speechwriter for President Nixon. On Friday, the blog Letters of Note unearthed the speech from The National Archives that Safire wrote for Nixon’s chief of staff H. R. Haldeman in July 1969. The speech was written in anticipation of the Apollo 11 moon landing, to be read by Nixon in the chance of the astronauts’ death. Thankfully, this “contingency plan” proved unnecessary. Here’s an excerpt:

IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:

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 the 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….

(h/t Laura McMillan)

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Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner