An unforgettable 11-Word Speech
in a sophisticated girdle

The 50th Anniversary | July 20, 2019

Across America, tenuous rabbit-ear-antennas were adjusted in homes and store-front windows as the nation tuned in on cathode-ray-tube television sets.

Just ten-years after President John F. Kennedy promised that the United States would walk on the moon, Americans from every walk of life stopped. And watched.

It was a sultry afternoon, and our world was about to be rocked by a man in a very sophisticated girdle.

Neil Armstrong’s unforgettable 11-word speech as he stepped onto the Moon. Hear the recording of that memorable speech here, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The literary form, for those taking note, is a chaismus. Discover why this works so well. Great Speeches stand the test of time

Neil Armstong and Buzz Aldrin had spent the hour prior, climbing into their model A7L suits. Constructed by the International Latex Corporation of Dover, Delaware (a girdle-manufacturer), the suit was made with 21-layers of synthetics and neoprene rubber. They, along with all of NASA, hoped that the A7L would protect them from the moon’s 500-degree range of temperatures as well as hurtling micrometeorites.

The International Latex Corporation, today known as Playtex, was master of the 1960’s hour-glass figure. Unlike previous models, this suit was short on trim and high on bulk. Weighing in at 110 pounds, the suit required an additional 180 pound life support backpack and 20-pounds of gear. Add the weight of an astronaut, and Neil and Buzz each weighed in at just under 500 pounds, for their historic moon walk.

Speechless before their televisions, America witnessed low-gravity for the first time as the suited Neil Armstrong (with a quarter-ton of bulk) bounced lightly down the ladder from the lunar module. Awkwardly extending his left foot toward the moon, we gasped as we saw moon dust rise from the impact of his boot. Still holding our breath, Neil’s words (chiasmus structure for those studying how to get it done) bridged the distance between moon and earth, between the impossible and the possible. Unforgettable.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."




The chiasmus is an incredibly effective tool.

Its symmetry inspires listeners to put faith in an idea that they will presume to be well-thought, balanced and memorable.

From the Greek χίασμα, chaism means crossing, as in a bridge that’s balanced for crossing. A chiasmus mimics its original spelling; like an X, it’s a statement that’s balanced on all sides.

A well-worded chaismus creates the sense that all tenets of an argument have been accounted for, leaving the listener with the sense that the outcome is obvious.

President John F. Kennedy, standing in the eastern portico of the U.S. Capitol, on January 20, 1961 , delivered his inaugural address. Most memorable? Kennedy’s call to action; in the form of a chiasmus.

"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."