tv Nixon White House Apollo 11 Eyewitnesses CSPAN August 29, 2019 3:12pm-4:46pm EDT
>> the fate of this country and maybe even the world lies in the hands of congress and the united states senate. >> the senate, conflict and compromise using original interviews, c-span's video archives and unique accesschamb. we'll look at the history and roles of the u.s. senate. sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span. next, nixon administration officials describe events inside the white house in the days before the apollo 11 moon landing. we'll hear from two former presidential aides who were in the oval office when president nixon speak to neil armstrong and buzz aldrin while they were on the moon. good evening, ladies and gentlemen. as people continue to wander in,
by the dawn's early light ♪ ♪ what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? ♪ ♪ whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ and the rockets' red glare the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ gave proof through the night
. >> please be seated. we have a lot to do and a lot of special guests to thank before we get going tonight. you'll hear in a couple of moments from rhonda johnson who is the president of at&t california. at&t is the cosponsor with the nixon foundation at today's events which have been going on since the 5k race for space this morning right up to this moment celebrating 50 years ago.
i've heard the national anthem a lot of times but i've never actually reflected on home of the brave ever being more perfectly incorporated as when neil armstrong, michael collins and buzz aldrin took off in that capsule 50 years ago this week. we're also pleased to welcome from at&t rhonda's assistant vice president richard porus. we have a very special guest. i'd like to introduce you to kia eisenhower. she is the great granddaughter of president and mrs. nixon and the great great granddaughter of president and mrs. eisenhower and an honored special guest tonight. welcome, kia. i hope i got that right. i get the generations all wrong. she's the great great granddaughter of dwight and mamie. also mike elsy is our director from the national archives.
[ applause ] >> mike really makes the trains run here in the national archives records association. a terrific partner with the foundation. alberto sandoval is a senior director of communications and public affairs at uci. bill lawn, legendary disney promoter, friend of the nixon foundation. he's now on the transit authority. we're glad to have you. supervisor dawn wagner and his wife judge meghan wagner. please stand up and say hello. [ applause ] >> we have with us sarah catalan and anthony johnson, representative of assemblyman philip chen and my friend and cantor lucy dunn. if anything happened to tim, she was going to do the national anthem and she didn't even know it. i want to thank francis french. we had three special speakers
today. francis french is an apollo historian who spoke earlier today about the personalities of neil armstrong, michael collins and buzz aldrin. buzz will be with us on tuesday night. it's great to have him here today, francis to discuss them. jason silverman is at spacex. he spoke about the future of space travel today. though he's not here with us now, i want to acknowledge doug paul for inspiring comments. doug was the at&t plant manager general control in new york. he had a key role in making the connections from the earth to the moon that we're talking tonight. and he actually saw the live feeds even before nasa did. doug played a crucial role in making the longest distance phone call in history possible, so we thank him and want to give him a round of applause. [ applause ] >> i also want to thank our
president society members who are here or in the library watching on our overflow room. and i want to thank as well a few people before i ask up rhonda from at&t, because this event began a few months ago with a lunch in d.c. with jim a saconi. he's the vice chair of the george h.w. bush foundation. i called randall stephenson who is the visionary leader of at&t and randall sent me a letter saying you really want to talk to nicole anderson and gerylyn turner. she lives in san francisco, sadly not in orange county but she's down for the day.
she oversees and directs all of at&t's government affairs, public policy, philanthropic giving and social engagement activities throughout california and they have 33,000 employees in california alone. rhonda is a veteran of the communications industry. she spent more than 30 years with at&t but she actually comes from the finance world having begun her career in chicago with the federal reserve there. at&t is one of our leading job creators and innovators in the united states and informing community engagements and celebrations. we're so pleased they have joined with the nixon foundation tonight. and of course the connection they made 50 years ago watched by a billion and a half people is indeed the most famous phone call in history. please, rhonda johnson, would you come up and share a few words with us? [ applause ] >> thank you so much, hugh. i must say and for those of you
i haven't met, i am rhonda johnson from at&t. i now have the job of president of at&t california. i must say we are so proud and pleased to be part of this event and this day working in collaboration with the nixon foundation library. this has been a phenomenal day. i was able to participate a little bit earlier this morning, see the crowds, see all the people that came through, and then myself personally to take a tour. i have been so impressed by what i saw in history that this president did and again with not only the apollo 11 landing but everything in the history of this museum is something you all need to see. at&t has been and is playing a role a little bit in what happened 50 years ago. we are all here today to remember that historic event when president nixon and millions and millions of people around the world watched two american astronauts step onto the moon's surface to make and have that first step on the lunar surface in the sea of
tranquility. we at at&t played a role and did have one of our employees who actually was part of that participate here today. we were involved in the transmission of that television view that we saw. i was a small child at that time on a farm in illinois. sat on the living room floor with my family watching the black and white vision of people stepping onto the moon. i will always remember that. we heard from doug paul this morning our employee about what happened traveling 245,000 miles from satellite dishes around the earth and from nasa and from the oval office up to the moon. it really is a phenomena. when we talk about the transmission of the telephone call, that was something that was a historic event. i have now seen documents from the '60s that talk about how
nasa first reached out to at&t and us to work with them, the air force and usgs to make that call possible. it took a lot of brain power and a lot of people dedicated to the mission to make that phone call happen. and it was the longest distance phone call ever, from the oval office in this love lly olive green push button phone where the president of the united states called the astronauts on the lunar surface. that call traveled those 240,000 miles up to the moon to the apollo station there on the moon and then onto the backpacks and antennas that were attached to the two astronauts as they talked to the president. you can see the transcript of the call in your program. at&t is all about using our technology to make a difference in the world, connecting people. a little over 100 years ago, it was the first transcontinental phone call. alexander graham bell called
from new york to san francisco. 50 years later, we made a call to the moon. we also in 1983 at the world's fair in new york had the first video conference phone call. then we developed the operating system, the precursor to things like windows and all that we use today. then we had the first wireless dmes commercial telephone call in 1983. from there we all carry around those devices that we can use and do marvelous things with.
the power, the bravery it took and the dedication to the mission, but it was landing on the moon, the transmission of the telecast or that phone call, it took people who believed in accomplishing a mission that came to it with perseverance and made amazing things happen. it was changing history. it's all about connections. and that is what at&t's mission is about, connections. so we're so proud to be here, to be part of this program and i really want to thank you on behalf of at&t for having us here and participating. and now i want to bring back hugh hewitt. you all know hugh. he is the president and ceo of the foundation, but he's an author, a lawyer, he's a tenured law professor, he's a columnist and he's a nationally known
policy commentator. you've probably all heard him. an amazing man, so accomplished, and he's going to lead us through a wonderful program. so join me in welcoming back hugh hewitt. [ applause ] >> to stand and speak without a note and deliver a message flawlessly. many of us have seen president nixon do that many, many times. let's get started. alex eisenhower, john chapham and john price. gentlemen, join me. [ applause ]
>> i want you to know that there's only one hard break in this program. we can go wherever the conversation takes us, but at 8:48 we're going to the tape because it's 50 years ago to the minute that president nixon called the moon at 8:48. so i've got a clock in front of us here and you've got a clock up there and if i miss that, i have screwed up. so we're not going to do that. on my far left grandson of president and mrs. nixon, great grandson of president eisenhower, please welcome alex eisenhower to the library. blaze. [ applause ] >> seated to his right is dwight chapin. he's been a moving force in the nixon world for as far back as 1962. he served in the white house as deputy assistant to the president and he was there on the night of the phone call.
dwight, welcome. [ applause ] >> next to dwight, another long time nixon aide, also in the administration from the first day, larry higby, deputy assistant to the president. he worked very closely with bob alderman and he is a member of our board and one of the driving members of the foundation for many years. larry, welcome back. [ applause ] >> immediately on my left a man i just met for the first time tonight, john price was the special assistant to the president and executive secretary of the urban affairs council and one of the true movers of domestic policy in the white house. i want to begin if i could because the moon landing and the moon phone call is for many of us a received memory. now, i remember it. i was 13. i'm 63 now. i remember being within up to watch it on tv and to listen to it in warren, ohio, at 11:48 or
whatever it was to be there. but most people learn about it from their parents or their grandparents. alex, i had occasion to call your ant triunt tricia to talk the family moment. would you tell people what the family was doing that night? >> yes. well, my mom told me that she was on the second floor of the white house and they were looking out over the rose garden and they could see her father, the president, talking on the phone to the astronauts. she said it was actually the moment exciting moment of all of her time in the white house, that moment, watching him speak to another man on another planet. sorry, on the moon. it was so momentous that she actually said it was the best, it was the most exciting, electric atmosphere of all of
her time in the white house. >> you won't be surprised. you probably talked about it. tricia nixon cox told me they would look from the television to the oval, to the oval to the television, both because they really couldn't quite believe what they were watching. the other part and i wonder if your father mentioned this to you, when it was done, your grandfather arrived back. they went down to greet him. he was completely humbled by the event, totally overwhelmed by the courage of the astronauts and staggered by the history of the moment. did that come through to you from your mom as well? >> yes. yeah. she said that he was really excited about it, actually. he saw it as a great opportunity to actually bring the world together and even in his speech he talked about the gray surface of the moon and the earth, the beautiful earth. you know, he saw it as a moment
to bring everybody together in the country, in the world. i think he just saw it as such an amazing opportunity. >> we're going to talk about the context first before we get to the phone call. i want to begin with some comments about the soviets. as you all know, this began in 1957. i was a year old. it wasn't my fault. the russians launched sputnik 1. john, do you remember sputnik 1? let's get the reaction to sputnik 1. john, go ahead. >> sputnik 1 was a slap in the face to american complacency. we were in the eisenhower presidency. it was a benign era of good feelings. the country felt comfortable because they were confident they were being head by an avuncular, intelligent, competent man who knew arms and armies. all of a sudden sputnik goes up. i was at college that autumn.
it's a small iowa college. a physics major, roger soderberg grabbed me. we drove out into greater darkness and indeed with the naked eye could see sputnik circling the earth. the next morning i phoned my grandmother who was the wife of a dairy farmer in southern iowa and i said, grandma, i just watched this soviet satellite circling the earth up in the heavens. she said, it's not possible, god would not permit it. but permit it he had. after that was this back and forth of initial soviet accomplishments, followed by american response, ever in front soviet accomplishments followed by american response. >> larry? >> my recollection really goes back to the fact that i think it
probably was the biggest wakeup call the united states could have for any of our space programs. what results from the first time over the next succeeding number of years was truly phenomenal and we're here celebrating it today. >> it did kick it off. dwight? >> yes, it kicked into motion a chain of events. the united states was not used to being second in anything and the fact that the russians got the sputnik up there and so forth was really a public relations black eye to the administration. and they determined very quickly that it couldn't be this way and they had to make a change. >> early on the space program is rightly identified with president kennedy. i've been in touch with the kennedy foundation director, because we hope this apollo 11 exhibit can travel there when it's done here. i hope you all get a chance to see it because it's so remarkable. president kennedy announced in houston on september 12th at
rice university that we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. dwight, i'll start with you. when you reflect on what president kennedy said, the '60s descended into chaos thereafter. maybe the only thing that held it together was the space program. >> yes. i think this is a very important moment. we hear it referred to even today that it would be a kennedy moment for example if somebody today set a goal that we were going to accomplish something in the next decade. america was ready for this dahl to arms, so to speak, and president kennedy put it out there. president nixon was behind it 1,000%. he never wavered on it. he thought kennedy had made the right decision and the president was very supportive. >> larry, do you recall it shaping your college years? you're a ucla guy. was the space race in the
background the whole time? >> too many things were in the background the whole time, including several classes i didn't quite get to. [ laughter ] >> no. i think it did shape and begin to bring focus, which is the word that i always associate with it, whether you were in high school or in college, because it was one of those things that captured the imagination and the concern of the world, not just the united states, the world. and i think our ability to react as dwight pointed out to that and come back strong and accept the challenge and beat the challenge is really what makes the u.s. such a special mace to be. >> john, you want to add to that about the whole backdrop to the '60s is divided between conflict and change and the space program. >> very much so. what the latter did was to give a sense of common purpose, of shared purpose. and finally a sense of
accomplishment and national competence. >> how often did the space program come up in the 1968 campaign? the president won one of the narrowest victories in lektoriel history. >> at one point in the campaign, i believe it was in early october, james webb who was the head of nasa resigned and one of the reasons he resigned was that the johnson administration, which would include humphrey, the candidate that was running against nixon, that they wanted to cut back on the space program. and the president put forth, the president being candidate nixon, put forth a statement saying that it was imperative, he used the word imperative that the administration go ahead with the program, fully fund apollo and keep it going.
but there was a moment in time there where it was becoming a campaign issue. >> larry, do you recall being shut down? was there a conversation inside the rooms? >> a very brief conversation. what happened with the space program in general was really more of a backdrop issue that the president saw had value in terms of so many other things he was trying to get done, whether it was weave together an alliance throughout europe or southeast asia or bring new people into the alliances that we already had. it was a great calling card that allows you to get in and do other things. >> in domestic policy, he had a lot to do. it was very expensive. was there ever a question of the expense overriding the importance of the mission? >> it was expensive. it was something like 4% of the entire federal budget. but it was ramped up and willingly and bipartisanly and
only after as the joy and the feelings slowly dissipated were the attacks back on for budgetary reasons. why as with the peace and growth dividends coming from the winding down of the vietnam war, why shouldn't we take these monies and apply to other things, domestic imperatives. >> the space program is always subject to people saying why are we doing this and not spending the money on earth on projects that would help the citizens of the planet here and particularly in the united states. so the important factor is there were 400,000 people employed putting together what happened here. it was a huge, huge industry. >> that helps account for the 4% of the budget. >> yeah. >> christopher, can you imagine the united states without a space program? you're one of the younger generation. can you imagine growing up
without all this around you? >> my generation takes it for granted. by the time i was born, a man had walked on the moon. it's just part of being an american, just thinking we could do the impossible. now they're cutting funding for nasa and talking about private industry taking the helm and going up into space now. times it felt like there wasn't much of a space program and there wasn't going to be. but it's exciting to see companies like spacex and a renewed interest in space because i think it's one of the most interesting things in the world. >> it is. it's important to remember it was a choice. you had to make a choice to go. you had to make a choice to continue. you had to make a choice that night. but president nixon is inaugu l
inaugurated six months before the landing. in his inaugural address he referred to apollo 8 and the picture earth rise. that picture featured prominently in nixon's oval office. and the president then actually spoke about the mission in his first inaugural address. let's listen to that excerpt. >> 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 a poet 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 in that uprigbright loveliness, brothers who know now they are truly brothers. >> archibald mclease, riders on the earth together. was that the mood in the country in january of 1969? >> the country had been largely divided by 1968. and in 1969, what you hear the president doing there is working and starting to put in place the
important job of bringing the country together again. and the rhetoric that he uses is to inspire and to have people have that magic ingredient of dreaming and thinking that things can be better. and the moon program was, if nothing else, was a denominator of spirit, of spirit in the country. and he knew that was coming and he brought it to the forefront of the american public because he thought it was so important to lay it in there. >> our late friend ray price was very proud of the phrase "the lift of a driving dream," which appears in the inauguration. do you think that was specific to the moon program or just generally about what he wanted to accomplish? >> i think it was more generally what he hoped to do and what he hoped to restore.
further to the point of how horrible things were, there had been something like 125 urban riots in the cities across america, small and large, in the prior year. and if that very place where he was giving his inaugural address, most of us were sitting in front on the east side of the capitol building. there were .50 caliber machine guns mounted on the escarpment. just a few blocks down the road there were still gutted smoldering fires left from problems there. on his way back from the inaugural, debris was thrown at his car. these were tense times. >> larry? >> i think the whole idea of the dream is very nix onian. he's always talking about
dreams. he's trying to lift the country up and move the country ahead and bring it back together again. he works very hard at that. he also had an uncanny sense of timing of when to take something that's out there and make it the issue. he clearly used the moon program more than once in that regard. very much unique to this president. >> dwight? >> hugh, i want to mention i was with ray price and the candidate mr. nixon when the words were uttered in new hampshire at the launch of the presidential campaign in 1968. and he talked about what america needed was the lift of a driving dream. so he was into that rhetoric at the very outset of the campaign. >> i also want to talk to you three about the space program and the soviet competition.
rn would come to be known as the greatest foreign diplomat that sat in office. it's not long after the invasion of czechoslovakia. the soviets are trying to get to the moon too. how much of the super power competition, is this real politic and how much of it is the lift of the driving dream going on? dwight? >> if nothing else, one of the ways we can define president nixon was he was incredibly pragmatic. so the answer to your question is, yes, the lift of the driving dream was important, but beating the soviets was equally important. >> and real. >> and real. yes. >> he was indeed both. and the quaker impulse was in him, unlike in herbert hoover
who was the only other quaker president to serve. the emblem of the logo on the president's grave out here is that it is most important to be remembered as a peacemaker. pat buchannon says in his book that one of the most outstanding and remarkable features of this man was the reality of his commitment to finding peace. >> yes. he was a quaker. he believed in peace at the center. >> did we begin to talk to the soviets in '69? i don't recall. i don't believe we did. >> i'm the domestic guy, but i think they started to put out some feelers. >> does anyone recall how the soviets reacts to this? i don't. >> no, i don't. >> what nixon did and we'll get to it perhaps is mr. boorman
brought back some soviet medals given to the cosmonauts. and nixon instructed that those medals be taken on apollo 11 and left on the moon as a gesture of comity to the soviet union. >> i didn't know that either. let's talk a little bit about the tension approaching the launch. was there ever any doubt in your mind on launch day or launch week, dwight, that it was coming down? i know we got used to in the shuttle era to having delays, et cetera. was there a countdown that you were stuck on that you knew was going to be taken off on the 16th and landing on the 20th? >> well, the president's attitude and position on the launch for july 16th and then the landing on the moon on the 20th was that it was one thing over which he had no control.
this was a nasa operation. the president had delegated authorities. and people that knew the technologies and everything involved were the ones that he was relying on. and this did not involve considerations by the white house in terms of postponements or anything else. if they needed to be done, he would have absorbed them and agreed with what the authorities said needed to be done. >> was there a science advisor to bob alderman or the president, or was it just the nasa director who was back and forth? >> i think it was direct with the nasa director. >> he had a science advisor, yes. >> so when we get closer and closer to the launch, no presidential event is accidental today. everything is planned weeks, months, sometimes years in advance. when did the planning begin for
the night of the launch and the night of the landing and the phone call? >> well, the planning recommendations from nasa probably were being generated back in the later johnson years. once the president took office, we had assistant to the president, peter flanagan, who became the point person with nasa and then president nixon had struck up a friendship with astronaut frank borman and frank borman was kind of brought into the inner circle along with flanagan and frank's assignment was to keep the president posted on all of the technical stuff he needed to know about the launch and what was going to happen and helped make some of the decisions. >> inside baseball, frank borman's role, can you expand on it? i know he is at the white house the night of the phone call.
did he have entrance and accesses he needed, larry? he is a great american, but how did an astronaut fit in with a bunch of staffers who were trying to keep the president on schedule and doing a thousand different things? >> i think he became very quickly a trusted adviser and somebody the president relied on. the other thing ng the president genuinely liked being with him. their personalities meshed well. they watched the landing together and i think had he not wanted to get into private life, probably would have been a significant factor politically both in the united states, republican party, and probably a significant adviser for the president on an ongoing basis. >> on july 16th when the launch took place the only person with the president was frank borman. >> that's right. >> that occurred at 9:32 in the morning on july 16th, if people do not know. let's watch that footage, just
to remember. >> 30 seconds and counting. astronauts report it feels good. t minus 25 seconds. 20 seconds and counting. t minus 15 seconds. guidance is internal. 12, 11, 10, 9, ignition sequence starts. 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. all engines running. liftoff. we have a liftoff. 32 minutes past the hour. liftoff on apollo 11. >> boy. >> oh, boy, it looks good. >> clear. >> building a shaking. we're getting that buffeting we've become used to.
men on their way to the moon. >> now, i see a lot of people younger than me here, rhett and irene and my buddies and many other people. how many of you went through the experience of having a television rolled into your elementary school classroom so you could watch the launch. every launch. that happened on challenger, by the way, in the reagan administration, it traumatized a generation of children, but how nervous were you three guys when this thing went down? >> do you mean when it occurred? >> yeah, when the launch took off. >> as opposed to the 72 seconds after the launch of challenger. >> yes. >> okay. >> i was there. >> you went down to florida? >> yes, i was there. we were seated in bleacherer, likes a high school football stadium stands, a distance, a good distance away from the actual launch site because of
the hour of the 7.5 million pounds of thrust. president johnson was there, he was in the front row. he had been brought there thanks to richard millhouse nixon who sent a nearly refurbished air force one to go and pick up president johnson and his wife as a gesture of respect and thanks for what johnson had done about this program. within the actual ignition occurred, being at the distance we were, you heard nothing. there was no audio, only video. it took a while, but then all of a sudden the ground began to literally thump under your feet. it shook like it was rolling and it was only a moment later that the air was literally slapping you against the face. >> wow. how about back at the white house? >> it was -- it was -- i mean, i felt personally like i had a split personality because on the one hand you were trying to figure out what do you need to do now.
as i think dwight said earlier, it's out of your control. on the other hand you're sitting there thinking about all the other things that could go wrong in this chain of events that take place over more than a number of days. and it really -- i mean, you couldn't get it off your mind, but you didn't want to think about it sometimes. it was very unique. >> as you would walk down the corridor in the west wing, you could hear from room to room every television was on by every staff person in the white house. >> wow. okay. now, there has been a lot of attention paid in the last couple of weeks to william sapphire writing a memo to your boss, larry, called the in event of moon disaster, offering suggested remarks in the case of a mission failure and that the apollo 11 astronauts did not survive. has that been overstated a little bit? was there more worry than we had been allowed to understand? >> i think it was just the white house operating as it always tried to, covering every
eventuality. it was something that was discussed, this he went through and it and shelved it and said this is going to work and they went for it and we went for it. >> this memo has gotten a lot of attention in the last ten days, but it's gotten more attention in the last ten days 50 years later than it did ten days around the actual -- the landing on the moon. i mean, this was not something that was talked about. the day of the event itself of the landing i do not recall it being mentioned once. >> i don't even know where the memo was. >> i think it was on a shelf probably in haldaman's office. if something had went haywire they would have gone and got it, but it was not top of mind. it was way down. this was a positive, we're going to do it, type of experience. i mean, obviously there was a lot of suspense in it, but, i mean, there was no focus on
this. >> there wasn't a constant drum beat going on of what about, what about, what about. >> that was not not there. >> no, it wasn't there. >> alex, your great-grandfather on the eve of d-day, i'm sure your father has told you this because we worked on it in the book "eisenhower at war" prepared a memo to the troops -- or actually prepared a memo to the world accepting responsibility for the failure of the d-day invasion. have you ever talked about that with your father and whether or not your grandfather was impacted by your great-grandfather's sort of contingency planning for the worst case? >> honestly not too much. it's just been a miracle that the mission was a success and, you know, they just moved forward from that. i mean, he had so many decisions that were life or death that he had to make in his life, you know, just sending people off to their deaths constantly. it was just one more success. i don't know how he handled it. >> now, i want to talk a little bit about the day off.
let's switch to the day of. dwight chapin, president nixon held a sunday church service on the day of the lunar landing, later buzz aldrin would hold a church service on the moon that was not allowed to be broadcast because of concerns that the aclu would object, but tell us about the church service that the president went to and why and how it occurred. >> the president and mrs. nixon established when they came into the white house sunday church services in the east room, nondenominational. and on this particular sunday the 20th of july, 1969, they had as the presiding minister the minister from wittier college where the president had gone to college, a quaker. one of the featured parts besides the prayers of a safe landing and a safe return, one
of the featured little talks was by frank borman who read from genesis and he read the same -- he read what he had read around christmastime of 1968 as they circled the moon and he read genesis back to earth and that got an incredible amount of attention at that time and it was repeated at this church service. >> i read today in preparing for this that mall and mary o'hare had objected to the reading and then buzz aldrin who is a presbyterian elder in the webster church, presbyterian church outside of houston, had requested to receive the elements of the presbyterian communion on the moon and he did, in fact, but they went radio silent for that because of the objection to frank borman's reading of genesis, they didn't want that. >> hugh, i could say this, that if anybody had objected to frank borman reading that genesis at that church service, president
ecstatic. language that bob is using reflects significantly the president's attitude. >> now, we have a special treat. i don't know how -- you couldn't get a super 8 camera into the white house today, dwight, but you got your super 8 camera into the what u.s. >> yes, i did. >> how often did you take a super 8 camera into the white house? >> i took a super 8 camera into the white house every day, bob
haldeman had one, i had one and we used it. here is some footage, there's roger ailes who was our technical adviser who later went on to notoriety at fox, there's bob haldeman at his desk working on some papers and you will see here in a second that he's conferring with roger ailes. this is during the day while we were all waiting. there was a lot of waiting time going on on this particular day. there's frank borman and frank is in a room that you never see, that's the president's little office that is offer of the oval office and that is the set on which president nixon watched the lunar landing. there's frank on the phone, probably with nasa. as you said, these are home movies that we took, so they're -- and they're, you know, 50 years old, so the quality of it. there's the little tv that the president watched it from and i think that's frank reynolds
there. there's ron ziegler, the press secretary, and we are in the cabinet room. we used the cabinet room, there you can see -- that's ollie atkins who was the official photographer, the guy with the cigar, that was bruce whelahan, the guy with this cigar is me. don't ask why we smoked cigars, but we did. we really staked ourselves into the cabinet room there throughout the day. you can see the windows were dark so, you know, we are into nighttime. the module landed at 4:15 in the afternoon and then the astronauts did not walk until later. this is a still shot of the cabinet room, the oval office is down through that doorway. there's a little office area and then the oval office and we are all sitting around there waiting. the president at this time is over in the executive office building, but this was right ahead of the -- of the actual
moon walk. >> i want to come back to the hide away in a second, but i note a lot of ashtrays here. >> yes. >> i mean, a lot of ashtrays. >> this was a different era. >> that's a lot of ashtrays. >> usage significantly declined as the administration went forward. >> but i also noted that -- i don't think -- can we replay that home movie? is that possible? i want to go back and play the home movie again because i think people are amazed, the cigar smoking in the white house is really a -- i don't think that's allowed by law anymore. >> it's not. >> here we go. air it again for us. >> that's bruce, he worked for ron ziegler and he was in charge of the press, roger ailes, again, who was the television adviser and basically got the president prepped as to exactly how everything was going to work and what the cues were. there's bob at his desk and roger again. >> roger is close, but no cigar.
>> again, you can see the windows, it's dark out, so this is later in the day -- or evening. and frank, again, probably on the phone with nasa. he was constantly getting updates and trying to check to make sure everything was working the way that we had been told it was going to work. and then frank would give the cues to roger ailes. and, again, that's the little tiny set. i mean, that's, what, a 20 inch color set. the president never watches television la err is saying. ollie atkins, the official white house photographer and bruce. and, again, to self-promote, yeah -- >> okay. walk me through what you three
did on that day. obviously you were running around with a camera, dwight, but how about you, john? >> i was thanks to dwight chapin -- >> that's not fair. >> -- i was sitting right there, you caught the back of my head and my right hand lifting a cigar. >> you were, too? you were part of the cigar brigade? >> yeah, i was, and i had hair. i don't smoke anymore and i have no more hair. but then that evening and, again, thanks to dwight i moved on into the oval office. >> hugh, the staff people, it was a waiting process. >> hurry up and wait. >> i mean, we got there, you know, midmorning and we're waiting until 4:00 for the -- you know, the landing, and then we're waiting until late evening. so we're sitting around chatting, trying to figure out -- talking to frank borman. i got -- if you look at the phone log, i got like six or seven calls from the president that lasted about a minute or 30
seconds or something because he was over in his office and he's antsy, you know, wanting to make sure that what's going on and so forth. so it was kind of like a hurry up and wait type thing. >> and a lot of people were in their offices because the one thing you didn't want to have happen is any kind of communications breakdown and you wanted to have something in place so, boom, you could just switch to another line or to another office immediately. so as dwight said, it was sort of hurry up and wait. >> now we have media circuses where it's considered an enormous event if 25 to 30 million people watch something. super bowl is bigger. but there were a billion and a half people watching this thing. >> right. >> what was the media doing that night? >> well, the media that night, let's -- let's go back. we're talking abc, nbc and cbs. i mean, it was a different media
world. this was going to be covered by a pool which meant that there would be a representative media people in there that would feed the information to all of the others. so it was -- it was not the big elaborate media circus that it would be today. >> there aren't 100 people sitting there yelling and asking questions and that sort of thing. >> no. >> the media had its own specific area inside the west wing and a lot of the offices had to be manned for any eventuality. >> john. >> yes, in the oval office that night you had the network television cameras and you also had some of the print press there and still photographers came in later, but the mood there was fascinating because the media folks, like the rest of us, were very subdued and there was an extraordinary mood, i felt, in the room after we settled down and the moment came
near. >> now -- >> this is a very -- this is a completely noncontentious type of a thing. there is no one going on that's questioning why this is happening or why are we spending money here or anything. i mean, this is suspense 101. i mean, what is going to happen next? is it going to go against plan? and not, you know, not gotcha or getcha type thing. >> walter concrete was very pro-administration that evening. >> talk to us a little bit about what it was like to be in the white house when man landed on the moon. >> well, i will say simply that a roar went up from our group in the cabinet room there, just a raucous scream which probably was echoed in living rooms and bars and railroad stations all over the world. it was just a moment of absolute
excitement. >> larry. >> i would agree with that completely. it was amazing to me. there was a kind of a hushed calmness almost after the roar and people were just -- just transfixed on the whole issue and what we had done as a nation, what this meant to the world and sort of asked you to think again about your place in the world and where you really -- where you really were not part of something that was so much bigger than you ever even dreamed. >> i think we're going to see some footage here in a few minutes that let me speak to right now briefly and that is that when you -- when you -- the overall feeling of the white house is exemplified by the president and he is riveted to looking at the television. i mean, this is it. you will see him here in a second. he's getting -- but he starts watching what's happening in
front of him on the set. this is the technical crew getting ready. this would be once he had been advised that there's going to be -- that we're getting ready with the call. there's roger, there's frank. the president -- it's interesting for sound reasons his whole top of his desk we covered with brown felt trying to keep the noise level down. now, here he is, he's starting to look at the tv and watch what's happening. he's getting interrupted by roger there. but he will come back to it in a second and he just kept -- kept his focus on what the men were doing. right now he's getting -- roger is explaining to him what nasa has said. he's asking about the call. frank is on with nasa. that's the pool camera that fed all the networks. there's ailes again. >> i want to cue that again to watch, but i'm going to preface
it by saying he had spent the early evening in his hide away in the old office. so when did he come over? walk us through one more time, dwight. >> he came over to the little office right before armstrong stepped on the moon and haldeman and borman were with him in the little office when that happened. once it happened he then came into the oval office. there's roger briefing him, frank, the president wiping the moisture off his lip, which was a constant thing. the felt on his desk there. he is watching -- i thought that there was more footage of this part, but there's not. he is just looking at the tv set. it's interesting, there were two sets, one on the right and one on the left because we did not know on which -- how nasa was going to put the picture and so
roger had devised that if the astronauts were on the right, nixon would be on the left looking at them, but he would switch over the other way if the astronauts were on the left, nixon would have been on the right. >> you know, there isn't any makeup person in the room. >> no. you didn't need makeup. probably, let me think, maybe under or formula maybe he had spend the weekend before in key biscayne. one of the tricks with richard nixon that we learned -- that he learned early on from 1960 and jack kennedy was that he looked a heck of a lot better when he had a tan and, therefore, he spent a lot of time in florida. >> but all of you would know -- alex, you will know -- the modern media world is nobody goes anywhere without hair and makeup and they would have been all over him today in 2019, 50
years later. you don't talk for 30 seconds without hair and makeup if you are a public figure. >> well, do we have on our makeup? i don't know. >> talk to me a little bit about the tension of the phone call as we approach the ten minutes to go mark. we had doug earlier today talking about this extraordinary technical event. were you worried about -- at that point the big thing is work. they are on the moon, the little thing, the phone call, is an amazing technological achievement. who was running that rope line at the white house? >> my answer would be waca, the white house communications agency and that's part of the department of defense. when their sheet came in, it's the one that says the president's call and it puts the time and it says to -- the call to the sea of tranquility, the
moon. >> we have those notes in the exhibition, it's really kind of -- it says call to the sea of tranquility on the moon. how much time did he spend prepping for what he would say to the astronauts? do any of you know? >> i don't. >> i can't say. >> i would say probably considerable time, knowing him. i can envision that he was over in the eob office with his yellow pad on his lap and that he wrote out several different thoughts that he might have on how he would do it. this is a man who always prepared and he always loved to tell the story about winston churchill and how churchill -- one time somebody came up to winston churchill and said how in the world -- the spontaneous remarks of yours are so special, they're so great, and winston churchill said some of the hardest work i do is writing
those spontaneous remarks. >> you know, just to add to that, he often would come out in the oval office and with a bunch of paperwork and give it to me and one of the things we always did was we had special remarks for anything he might be speaking about ahead of him. he would literally -- the process was always the same, he would read them, turn the page over, write out his own remarks, look at it quickly, toss it in the outbox and then he would sit there and give those remarks word-for-word for word perfectly with no notes in front of him. if you notice there there's no note in front of him here. >> could i just bring you back for a moment to him sitting at that desk and dwight's point earlier, the intensity with which he was watching those three consoles. when the astronauts were out on the moon and about to talk to him they lifted a flag through a
lanyard and it extended the flag as though wind were blowing it and at that point nixon clapped about three or four times and saluted in the room. you are speaking of the press and the relationship and dwight saying, again, the wonderful mood. at the end of the talk some wag at the press spoke up -- the president, rather, and said i'd hate to get the toll charges on that call and one in the press said make it collect. >> let me ask you if you have any memory, president and mrs. nixon are buried outside in a very wonderful last resting place. mrs. nixon so central to his life, so wonderful to everyone who worked for her. do you have any recollection about how she approached this evening and how she approached the space program in particular? >> i don't. in fact, when alex was talking,
the girls watching through the window and i don't know whether they referenced whether mrs. -- >> she was there. tricia told me she was there. >> okay. she was up there watching down. but then when he finished, your mother and dad and your aunt went down to the rose garden and when he got done doing the assimilation for the photographers -- after the phone there was a press opportunity for the photographers and then he got up and walked through the rose garden doors and that's when your mom and dad and aunt greeted him in the rose garden and mrs. nixon was still up in the mansion, i believe. >> so in terms of the number of people in the room for this, i counted six. that's not a normal -- was that a normal -- did he keep his office staff small and in the room? >> when this happened? >> yeah. >> absolutely.
absolutely. a rule 1a was staff unless you needed to be there you weren't there. >> larry, how many people were in the cabinet room? >> well, the cabinet room is different. >> right. >> the cabinet room is totally different. >> yeah. >> it's someplace where the staff is now gathered. >> so how many -- are there 20 people in there? >> no, i would say six or eight, just like it showed in there. you have to remember for a good portion of this most of the staff needed to be in their office. >> why? >> because -- >> the other part, larry, is it was sunday and a lot of people just weren't in. >> but as dwight said, you could go down the hall and you would see the tvs on and there's usually at least one staff person if not more manning that office. >> i can't imagine someone not going to the white house on the day that they're landing on the moon. did someone say they had something better to do that day? >> i don't think so. >> what was bob haldeman doing,
so central to the presidency, what was he doing during this period of time? >> well, he was with the president for a good portion of the time but he also was along with frank providing information and, remember, we were getting ready to leave on a trip, weren't we? >> in his diary he says that he -- for part of the afternoon he went back to the hotel. he was still living in a hotel. they had not moved permanently to washington. >> the jefferson. >> he was packing for the trip. >> it was a pretty tight schedule for those guys. >> after this was done and we will watch it in five years, 50 years to the moment, how long until he leaves the white house to go and greet them, splash down is in three days, right, after this? >> right. >> how long does he wait until he leaves? >> the walk was on the 20th, he stayed at the white house on the 21st and on the 22nd he flew to san francisco, the 23rd he flew to johnson island and from johnson island out to the u.s.s.
something. >> arlington. >> arlington. he spent the night on the arlington and at 4:00 a.m. next morning he by helicopter went from the arlington to the "u.s.s. hornet" and when the splash down occurred the helicopter that picked the capsule up brought it to the hornet and the president was on the hornet when the capsule -- when the helicopter brought the astronauts to the hornet. >> so the whole world was watching and they stayed watching. john, i remember in my prep for this, you traveled with a french person down to cape canaveral, who fs that. >> his name was jean santanee. he was my seat mate on air force 2 going down. he had been ranged in the french colonial service, had been a tutor to an emperor in vietnam, was living in hanoi when the japanese invaded and was imprisoned, interred during the war and then saw on the steps of
hanoi's city hall in 1945 ho chi minh visiting with american oss officers. he told me all about this and later sent me a book he had written. what i did not know and what was meant not to be known was that this was a cover for him. he was a director of air france, he had been in the government as a minister and he was going down to watch the space launch as an air france director, state-owned airline. p.s., the reality was, as dwight knows, that he had come actually in to see nixon and kissinger the day before because he was the intermediary between richard nixon and ho chi minh and he was the guy who was opening the path to the negotiations and it was the first meeting they had all had together, he carried a letter from nixon to ho and then the very first meeting between can i say singer and the vietcong was held in his apartment in paris. >> so why, as we get to the two
minute mark, where were dr. kissinger and secretary of state rogers, secretary of defense laird and the president at this point? >> they were all playing gin rummy together. >> i know henry was in new york because on the phone log he called henry and had a -- actually, a very long conversation that day. the vice president is not on the phone log for that day nor is the secretary of state. so i don't know where they were. >> and so as we get there, there are thousands of people involved in this. we're two minutes away from 50 years ago. thousands of people have got to execute. was he nervous at all? >> was he nervous? nervous is not a word that i -- anticipatory is the word that was used in one of the films that we did and i think that
there was just this high degree of expectation of something big transpiring, but i would not use the word nervous. >> i think focused may come a little closer to it, but as dwight said this sort of expectation on top of it. >> well, we are now at 8:47 and the phone call occurs at 8:48. so i'm going to just walk into the break and we can anticipate the president waiting -- this is a replica of the green phone which is on the -- the real phone is in our exhibit. you can go in and see it. put yourself in the mind of richard nixon waiting to talk to people on the moon in the longest phone call in history.
>> it's frank borman that gives him the cue here. >> oh, he does? >> yes. you don't see t but that's what happened.it but that's what happene, but that's what happened. >> something rather important is coming up here. >> neil and buzz, the president of the united states is in his office now and would like to say a few words to you. ove over. >> that whooould be an honor. >> go ahead, mr. president. this is houston out. >> hello, neil and buzz. i talked to neil by telephone at the oval room at the white house and this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made from the white house. i just can't tell you how proud we all are of what you have done. for every american this has to be the proudest day of our lives
and for people all over the world, i am sure that they, too, join with americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. >> what did he do immediately after he hung up? did he walk out to the rose garden to meet mrs. nixon and the girls? >> immediately after what you just saw there was a pause and then the white house photographers all came in and they did the still shots that ended up in the -- you know, in all the newspapers and so forth and that took probably five minutes and then he got up and went out to the rose garden to see alex's parents and so forth. >> trish ma nixon-cox told me two days ago that he was incredibly humbled by talking to these people. that it was not a celebratory moment for him but one as he said in his moment of being incredibly proud to be an american. i wonder if you three would have a reflection on that.
>> yes, i'm sure in his heart of hearts he was feeling tremendous pride in what had happened for the nation and what these men had accomplished. >> i think that was true throughout the white house. >> yes, and it is so indicative of the kind of role a president can play at a moment like this, understanding the breadth of the people's interests whom you represent. >> would you remind us of what your mother said about that night. it's on the quote on the wall in the museum. >> she just remembered it being the most electric moment of her time in the white house. it was the most excited she was the entire time. another thing her grandmother told her is when they went on the good will trip, operation moon beam and they were traveling around, hundreds of the people that came up to nixon
and pat, they were calling them moon king and moon queen, which i thought was very interesting, for their role in the whole event. so that must have been pretty interesting. >> i want to talk about this splash down now. bob ald man writes that the splash down happened in spectacular fashion. turned into a red ball and disappearing. dwight, we have more footage. can you describe for us what's going on on the "u.s.s. hornet" here. >> okay. the helicopter you see here has the astronauts, they have just landed on the hornet, they have been picked up in the water. the band is playing columbia the gem of the ocean because the spacecraft was called columbia. you will notice that the helicopter is going down below, the men went below deck here and
then were taken out of the helicopter through an air chamber and they would -- they went into the -- well, we will see that in a minute here. the president is with tom payne in the glasses on the right, he is the head of nasa. they are aboard the hornet and on the left you can see the image of secretary of state rogers who was there. now, this is where the president talked to the astronauts, they are in this basically an air stream holding area which they had to stay for how many weeks? two weeks, i think. on the right there is admiral john mccain, john mccain's father who was chief of the operations in the pacific. here is the president, the astronauts had now gotten into this unit from the helicopter and they are at this window and they are talking to the president. now, this is super 8 footage, i
vietnam war and everything, this is a way of trying to bring back the united states prestige in the world. >> how much planning went into this? >> lots of planning went into this. this trip -- this trip was incredibly complicated, particularly the romania stop and the pack standian stop both were complicated. both of those countries ended up with -- they had leaders who had ties to the chinese and it was part of the strategy that eventually led to the president going to china. >> let's go to the dinner because we're wrapping up here. the astronauts have to be in quarantine for a long time, they make a triumphant return to the united states. here at the dinner on august 13th before they leave on the good will tour. what was that like? >> well, exuberant. i mean, the president was in euphoria, ecstatic to have these
men going around the world on their good will trip to represent the united states and what had been accomplished. it was -- it put -- put another way it was harvesting all of the greatness that had been accomplished. >> i don't know that people know this, but when they visited mexico city, 7 million people lined the road from their landing to their -- 7 million people came out to see them when they landed. they were -- they were really extraordinary celebrities -- in the age before celebrities, buzz and neil and michael might have been the most famous men on the planet. >> if you had to pick one word to put with them, they were authentic. >> john, do you want to add to that? larry? >> i would just say that's a good definition. they were the rock stars of the world. >> they get back to the white house two days after the silent
majority speech. what was the impact of having them back after the around the world -- by the point it's july, august, september, october, november, it's been four months, they're still superstars and rock stars. how important is it when they come back. >> november 5th? >> yes. >> they came back. that's very interesting. i never had put that together, the silent majority speech was a very famous speech that the president gave where he called on the great silent majority to speak up on the vietnam war. i believe that the great silent majority was further impacted by this picture you see here and by the president being with the astronauts on the south grounds. >> i'd like to wrap by talking a little bit about the impact of the apollo mission generally. i do believe what you just said, in fact, coalesced the vast population of the united states into being proud americans again despite divisions about the war,
but you guys lived it so you tell me, john. >> i think as bill sapphire has said of richard nixon, he is a layer cake and i think one of the elements that was probably in his mind and heart is one that struck people all over the world, whether they are religious secular and it's summarized by the airman's sonnet which goes the first and last phrase is -- goes something like this, i have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies. i have trod the untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand and touched the face of god. at one level i think people felt that. at another level, bringing you closer to earth, down to earth, english was the language spoken in that one sentence by neil armstrong, english was the language spoken in this phone conversation heard by a quarter of the population of the earth. so there was definitely a moment
of american -- an american moment and that was then followed up by all kinds of tactical moves. president nixon, for example, took on one of his visits in the soviet union a piece of moon rock to present them. well, now, there are lots of ways of looking at that, it was a nice tactical move, a nice way of saying we beat you and that moon rock sits in the cosmonaut museum in russia. but there were a lot of layers to this but it started with a deeply spiritual one. >> he gave all the leaders of both parties a little tiny piece of the moon rock also, despite the fact that nasa wasn't excited about that whole thing. the thing i think about the silent majority, to connect it, is i got the feeling that was the first time he really felt he broke through and really had established a unique and separate group of people that really were -- were more pro
american and more proud and willing to speak up about what we had done and whether it was the moon rock or anything else. the name, the silent majority, i think, really resonated with him and an awful lot of people and gave him a path to move forward. >> an ultimate question or a comment, dwight, about the impact of the mission because i want to close with alex. >> i just would like to say that the kennedy assassination and 9/11 served in -- each in its own way to bring americans together and what's so special about this particular event, and we've heard it referred to in terms of the hundreds of millions of people that watched it is this event truly brought the whole world together. i guess i want to say that the world could use another event like this. >> alex, i want to close with you. earlier tonight in a small dinner you told us about playing
flashlight tag with your grandpa, ba i believe you called him. when you were young did it ever occur to you this is the fellow who called the moon, this is the guy who called the shot to go after the technological difficulty? i mean, what is your reflection watching this tonight? >> it's always interesting looking at him as a historical figure, especially since i didn't really know a whole lot of what he did as president. i sort of shied away from politics when i was younger, i just looked at him strictly as a grandfather. so it's always really fascinating just seeing just how much of an impact he has on the world. i mean, his signature is on the moon right now. that blew me away when i heard that today. so, yeah, it's just -- it's amazing all the things that he has accomplished and that he was able to be a part of this. >> dwight. >> he signed a plaque.
>> yes. >> that is on the moon and the plaque says "we came in peace for all mankind." >> i can't think of a better way to end on that except perhaps to have tim kepler come up and lead us in god bless america if we would all stand. ♪ god bless america land that i love ♪ ♪ stand beside her and guide her ♪ ♪ through the night with the light from above ♪
>> ladies and gentlemen, i'd like you to please join me in thanking our panel for their recollection tonight. it was truly extraordinary, gentlemen. [ applause ] >> and once more if you would join me in thanking at&t for making this possible tonight, rhonda, thank you so much. [ applause ] >> good evening and safe travel on your way home. drive safely, friends. goodnight. all week we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3.
lectures in history, american artifacts, reel america, the civil war, oral histories, the presidency and special event coverage about our nation's history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on c-span 3. weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. this week a look at our weekly lectures in history series which takes you into college classrooms across the country. tonight programs on drugs in u.s. history including one examining marijuana regulation in america. see american history tv tonight starting at 8:00 eastern and every saturday and sunday on c-span 3. labor day weekend on american history tv, saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on lectures in history, a discussion about
abraham lincoln and native americans. sunday at 4:00 p.m. on reel america, the 1950 army film "invasion of southern france." and monday, labor day, at 8:00 p.m. eastern the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of virginia's first general assembly held at jamestown. explore our nation's past on american history tv, every weekend on c-span 3. >> in the late 1850s american generally trusted their congressmen but they did not trust congress as an institution nor did congressmen trust each other. by 1860 many congressmen were routinely armed, not because they were eager to kill their opponents, but out of fear that their opponents might kill them. >> yale history professor and author joeian freeman will be our guest on in depth sunday from noon until 2:00 p.m. eastern, her latest book is "the
field of blood." her other titles include "the essential hamilton", "hamilton writings", and affairs of honor. join our live conversation with your phone calls, tweets and facebook questions. then at 9:00 p.m. eastern on afterwards in his latest book "the immoral majority" ben howl examines whether evangelicals are choosing political power over christian values. >> i think the lesser evil argument is tempting but dangerous. i think it contributes to keeping a system in place that takes accountability out of the system and i think it also is an easy way to bring in something like evangelicalism or any other faith and then use that as a way to get votes, which seems like about the worst possible way you could use faith. >> watch book tv every weekend on c-span 2. next, valerie neal head of
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