“We choose to go to the Moon.”

Kennedy at Rice University

Fifty years ago today, John Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University in Texas, outlining his reasoning behind his proposal that the United States send a man to the Moon before the end of the decade. The key phrase:

But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Video below the fold. The full text can be found here. (Interesting sidebar: When I posted Monday’s evening pause that quoted this speech I hadn’t realized the 50th anniversary of the speech was this week!)

This speech is worth watching, in full, if only to see the passion of both Kennedy and the audience for what he says. It also reveals a somewhat higher level of sophistication coming from a politician than one would see nowadays. Kennedy not only understood the deeper philosophical reasons for exploration, his thoughts were grounded in history as well as recent events, all of which he referenced repeatedly.
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