Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nixon Quotes MacLeish

On January 20, 1969, Richard Nixon assumed the presidency, taking his oath of office from Chief Justice Earl Warren at the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol. Toward the end of his inaugural address, Nixon quoted poet and librarian Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982) regarding the flight of Apollo 8, only a month earlier.

"Only a few short weeks ago, we shared the glory of man's first sight of the world as God sees it, as a single sphere reflecting light in the darkness.

"As the Apollo astronauts flew over the Moon's gray surface on Christmas Eve, they spoke to us of the beauty of Earth -- and in that voice so clear across the lunar distance, we heard them invoke God's blessing on its goodness.

"In that moment, their view from the Moon moved poet Archibald MacLeish to write:'To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold -- brothers who know now they are truly brothers.'

"In that moment of surpassing technological triumph, men turned their thoughts toward home and humanity -- seeing in that far perspective that man's destiny on Earth is not divisible; telling us that however far we reach into the cosmos, our destiny lies not in the stars but on Earth itself, in our own hands, in our own hearts.

"We have endured a long night of the American spirit. But as our eyes catch the dimness of the first rays of dawn, let us not curse the remaining dark. Let us gather the light."

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