Richard Nixon photo

Exchange of Remarks With Former Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong About United States Space Week.

July 19, 1974

MR. ARMSTRONG. Mr. President, you have proclaimed this week to be United States Space Week in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of our first successful landing on the Moon. It is my privilege to represent my colleagues, the crewmen of Projects Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab, and the men and women of NASA and the hundreds of thousands of Americans from across the land who contributed so mightily to the success of our efforts in space in presenting this plaque which bears the names of each individual who has had the privilege of representing this country in a flight above the surface of the Earth.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, thank you very much, Neil.

It is hard to realize that 5 years ago we had the dinner in Los Angeles honoring the crew of which you were the captain, but in that period of time, there have been so many more who have gone to the Moon and who are now participating, of course, in the new projects which will culminate in the joint Soviet-American enterprise in 1975.

Five years ago, I don't think we would have anticipated that would happen, although I know you expressed at that time, you and your colleagues, the hope that what we were doing in space would be shared with other people throughout the world. And that is exactly what we are doing.

I think it is also very generous of you, but very appropriate to point out that there are the names of a very few, very courageous and able and intelligent people, including, of course, yourself, on this plaque. They could not have done what they did without the backing of some 400,000 people who have, at one time or another, been engaged in the space program.

And so, this plaque will represent the efforts of all of those who have made our program possible, that have made the United States first in the exploration of space.

We will put it in an appropriate place in the White House so that the thousands of visitors who come through there will be able to be reminded, particularly in this next week or 2 weeks, of what we have done in the field of space.

And finally, I would say this: that there are those who might wonder, was it worth it? We are now finding that in terms of even practical application, apart from exploration, that it was worth it.

As you were telling me just a few moments ago in the office, the areas of geology, of topography, predictions with regard to the weather, and needless to say, in communications, all of these have received a tremendous input that they would not have had unless we had had the space program.

In addition, there is the fallout, technologically, which cannot be estimated in terms of money, technologically, because of the contribution of the space program. The most important, I think, the greatest contribution of this program is not exploration and it is not the technology, where we are getting benefits that are material, but it is the spirit that you and your colleagues in the program have had the opportunity to demonstrate to the American people and to people all over the world.

We are proud of the men who have gone to space, we are very proud of all of those who helped you make it possible to go into space. Without a great challenge you can't be a great person, and we have demonstrated through this program, and we congratulate you again 5 years later, you and your colleagues, for all that you have done.

Note: The exchange of remarks began at 12: 25 p.m. at the Western White House in San Clemente, Calif.

On July 13, 1974, the President signed Proclamation 4303, designating the period July 16 through July 24 as United States Space Week, 1974.

Richard Nixon, Exchange of Remarks With Former Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong About United States Space Week. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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