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US President Richard Nixon threw a 1440-guest dinner in honor of the Apollo 11 crew in Los Angeles on 13 August 1969, a day which saw the astronauts hop between New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Nixon himself oversaw details including a newly commissioned song by the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and table decor, according to Time Magazine.
The guests included government officials, astronauts, entertainment figures and other celebrities, but notably lacked Jacquelyn Onassis, former President John F. Kennedy’s First Lady, who declined Nixon’s invitation. The mood, while celebratory, was also valedictory, according to space journalist Andrew Chaikin. The astronauts were well aware that Nixon was no fan of the manned space program, which he saw as a legacy of his predecessors Kennedy and Johnson. Chaikin wrote in A Man on the Moon that one cynical astronaut at the dinner raised a pre-emptive memorial toast to the moon landings: “Here’s to the Apollo program. It’s all over.”
This is the final blog post of the @ApolloPlus40 series, which accompanied the ApolloPlus40 Twitter project by Nature News, a re-telling of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, 40 years later.
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