Remarks by Telephone to the Apollo 8 Crew Members Following Their Return From the Moon
This is a message to Colonel Borman, Captain Lovell, and Major Anders.
We want to welcome you home. We thank God that you are back safe again.
You have made us very proud to be alive at this particular moment in history. You have made us feel akin to those Europeans nearly five centuries ago who heard stories of the New World for the first time. There is just no other comparison that we can make that is equal to what you have done or to what we feel.
I had a memorandum a short time ago from the men who handle the Washington-Moscow hot line. And I thought you would be interested in a portion of that memorandum to the President.
It said that due to the interest of the Soviets in the Apollo program, we asked them, after we heard from them on Apollo 7, if they would be interested in being informed of developments in Apollo 8. The hot line personnel in Moscow responded enthusiastically and asked us to keep them posted. So we informally, here at the hot line in Washington, relayed information in regard to the most important aspects of your flight, and the Soviets were very solicitous about the welfare of you astronauts and expressed great interest in the success of your flight.
Now, we all know that you men were supported by an elaborate technical apparatus and by many brilliant and devoted men and women here on the ground. We salute all of them as we salute you.
The first thing I did this morning when things looked good was to call your boss, Dr. Paine, and Jim Webb, to congratulate them, and then I called your wives in Houston to express our gratitude to them for providing the strength and the inspiration to you men that would permit you to accomplish this great feat.
But we know that all the engineering marvels in the world could not take away one whir of our excitement and admiration for the three of you who were out there in the vastness of space.
If I could have exchanged thoughts with you, I was going to ask you whether it felt better coming down or going up, and to have you tell me some of your experiences because you have seen what man has really never seen before. You have taken all of us all over the world into a new era.
My thoughts this morning went back to more than 10 years ago in the Pedernales Valley when we saw Sputnik racing through the skies, and we realized that America had a big job ahead of it.
It gave me so much pleasure to know that you men have done a large part of that job.
So we rejoice that you are well, and we send you congratulations from all of your fellow countrymen and from all peace-loving people in the world.
Note: The President spoke at 12:44 p.m. from the Fish Room at the White House to the three Apollo 8 astronauts who were aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown in the Pacific. During his remarks he referred to James E. Webb, former National Aeronautics and Space Administrator, and Dr. Thomas O Paine, Acting Administrator.
For the President's remarks by telephone to the wives of the astronauts, see Item 645.
See also Item 637.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks by Telephone to the Apollo 8 Crew Members Following Their Return From the Moon Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/236346