I’ve been reading “Rocket Men” by Craig Nelson about the American effort to land men on the moon. Lots of interesting untold stories in there but this one will be of interest to most people here.
In the final planning stages for Apollo 11 NASA put together a committee to decide on a way to commemorate the landing. Jack Kinsler was NASA Technical Services Dept Director was in charge of this and the committee came up with the plaque that was fixed to the leg of the Lunar Module descent stage which most of us have seen.
When president Nixon heard about the plaque he had one of his staff contact NASA and insist on adding the words “under god” to the plaque. Jack Kinsler pushed back saying that not everyone in the country believed in a universal god. Nixon’s aid pushed back harder saying that the president is really into god and he expects those words added to the plaque making it clear this was not a request. Kinsler relented and said OK realizing that in the hectic environment of final prep no one would remember this conversation. As you can see from the plaque above the president didn’t get his way and religious freedom won the day. Its only too bad he didn’t forget to put Nixon’s name on the plaque as well.