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Moon or Bust!

May 22, 2011

KENNEDY: Now it is time to take longer strides -- time for a great new American enterprise -- time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on Earth.

Just four months into John F. Kennedy's presidency, the United States was getting whipped in the Cold War. The Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba had failed, and the Soviets had launched the first man into space. Kennedy wanted a daring new goal to refocus the attention of the nation and the world. On May 25th, 1961, he outlined his plan in a speech to Congress -- a plan that would bring a new competition between east and west: the Moon Race.

 KENNEDY: While we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth....But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

The United States achieved Kennedy's goal and won the race eight years later -- by landing two men on the Moon.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2011


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