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Richard Nixon: Remarks to Apollo 11 Astronauts Aboard the U.S.S. Hornet Following Completion of Their Lunar Mission.
Richard Nixon
277 - Remarks to Apollo 11 Astronauts Aboard the U.S.S. Hornet Following Completion of Their Lunar Mission.
July 24, 1969
Public Papers of the Presidents
Richard Nixon<br>1969
Richard Nixon
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Neil, Buzz, and Mike:

I want you to know that I think I am the luckiest man in the world, and I say this not only because I have the honor to be President of the United States, but particularly because I have the privilege of speaking for so many in welcoming you back to earth.

I can tell you about all the messages we have received in Washington. Over 100 foreign governments, emperors, presidents, prime ministers, and kings, have sent the most warm messages that we have ever received. They represent over 2 billion people on this earth, all of them who have had the opportunity, through television, to see what you have done.

Then I also bring you messages from members of the Cabinet and Members of the Senate, Members of the House, the space agency, from the streets of San Francisco where people stopped me a few days ago, and you all love that city, I know, as I do.

But most important, I had a telephone call yesterday. The toll wasn't, incidentally, as great as the one I made to you fellows on the moon. I made that collect, incidentally, in case you didn't know. But I called three, in my view, three of the greatest ladies and most courageous ladies in the whole world today--your wives.

From Jan, Joan, and Pat, I bring their love and their congratulations. We think it is just wonderful that they have participated at least in television in this return. We are only sorry they couldn't be here.

Also, I will let you in on a little secret. I made a date with them. I invited them to dinner on the 13th of August, right after you come out of quarantine. It will be a state dinner held in Los Angeles. The Governors of all the 50 States will be there, the Ambassadors, others from around the world and in America. They told me that you would come, too. All I want to know is: Will you come? We want to honor you then.

MR. NEIL A. ARMSTRONG. We will do anything you say, Mr. President, anytime.

THE PRESIDENT. One question, I think all of us would like to ask: As we saw you bouncing around in that float out there, I wonder if that wasn't the hardest part of the journey. Did any of you get seasick?

MR. ARMSTRONG. No, we didn't, and it was one of the hardest parts, but it was one of the most pleasant, we can assure you.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I just know that you can sense what we all sense. When you get back now incidentally, have you been able to follow some of the things that happened since you have been gone? Did you know about the All-Star Game?

COL. EDWIN E. ALDRIN, JR. Yes, sir. The capsule communicators have been giving us daily reports.

THE PRESIDENT. Were you American League or National League?

Col. ALDRIN. National League.

MR. ARMSTRONG. Neither one.

THE PRESIDENT. There is the politician in the group.

MR. ARMSTRONG. We are sorry you missed that.

THE PRESIDENT. You knew that, too?

MR. ARMSTRONG. We heard about the rain. We haven't learned to control the weather yet, but that is something we can look forward to.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can only summarize it because I don't want to hold you now. You have so much more to do. You look great. Do you feel as great as you look?

MR. ARMSTRONG. We feel great.

THE PRESIDENT. Frank Borman feels you are a little younger by reason of having gone into space. Is that right? Do you feel a little bit younger?

MR. ARMSTRONG. We are younger than Frank Borman.

THE PRESIDENT. He is over there. Come on over, Frank, so they can see you. Are you going to take that lying down?

ASTRONAUTS. It looks like he has aged in the last couple weeks.

COL. FRANK BORMAN. They look a little heavy.

Mr. President, the one thing I wanted--you know, we have a poet in Mike Collins. He really gave me a hard time for describing the words "fantastic" and "beautiful." I counted them. In 4 minutes up there, you used four "fantastics" and three "beautiful."

THE PRESIDENT. Well, just let me close off with this one thing: I was thinking, as you know, as you came down, and we knew it was a success, and it had only been 8 days, just a week, a long week, that this is the greatest week in the history of the world since the Creation, because as a result of what happened in this week, the world is bigger, infinitely, and also, as I am going to find on this trip around the world, and as Secretary Rogers will find as he covers the other countries in Asia, as a result of what you have done, the world has never been closer together before.

We just thank you for that. I only hope that all of us in Government, all of us in America, that as a result of what you have done, can do our job a little better.

We can reach for the stars just as you have reached so far for the stars.

We don't want to hold you any longer. Anybody have a last--how about promotions? Do you think we can arrange something?

MR. ARMSTRONG. We are just pleased to be back and very honored that you were so kind as to come out here and welcome us back. We look forward to getting out of this quarantine and talking without having the glass between us.

THE PRESIDENT. Incidentally, the speeches that you have to make at this dinner can be very short. If you want to say "fantastic" or "beautiful," that is all right with us. Don't try to think of new adjectives. They have all been said.

Now, I think incidentally that all of us, the millions who are seeing us on television now, seeing you, would feel as I do, that, in a sense, our prayers have been answered, and I think it would be very appropriate if Chaplain Piirto, the Chaplain of this ship, were to offer a prayer of thanksgiving. If he would step up now.

Note: The President spoke at 8:55 a.m. aboard the U.S.S. Hornet near the splashdown site in the Pacific. The prayer offered by Lt. Comdr. John A. Piirto, USN, Chaplain of the Hornet follows: Let us pray.

Lord God, our Heavenly Father, our minds are staggered and our spirits exultant with the magnitude and precision of this entire Apollo 11 mission. We have spent the past week in communal anxiety and hope as our astronauts sped through the glories and dangers of the heavens.

As we tried to understand and analyze the scope of this achievement for human life, our reason is overwhelmed with the bounding gratitude and joy, even as we realize the increasing challenges of the future. This magnificent event illustrates anew what man can accomplish when purpose is firm and intent corporate.

A man on the moon was promised in this decade, and though some were unconvinced, the reality is with us this morning in the persons of the astronauts: Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins. We applaud their splendid exploits, and we pour out our thanksgiving for their safe return to us, to their families, to all mankind.

From our inmost being, we sing humble yet exuberant praise. May the great effort and commitment seen in this Project Apollo inspire our lives to move similarly in other areas of need. May we, the people, by our enthusiasm and emotion and insight move to new landings in brotherhood, human concern, and mutual respect. May our country, afire with inventive leadership and backed by a committed followership, blaze new trails into all areas of human care.

Speed our enthusiasm and bless our joy with dedicated purpose for the many needs at hand. Link us in friendship with peoples throughout the world as we strive together to better human conditions. Grant us peace beginning in our own hearts and a mind attuned with good will toward our neighbors.

All this we pray as our thanksgiving rings out to Thee in the name of our Lord, Amen.

Citation: Richard Nixon: "Remarks to Apollo 11 Astronauts Aboard the U.S.S. Hornet Following Completion of Their Lunar Mission.," July 24, 1969. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=2138.
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