“We choose to go to the moon”

I just watched Jerry Linenger give a phenomenal TED talk at UNC’s TEDx event (via live streaming). In it, he referenced one of my favorite quotes from JFK.  JFK gave this speech on September 12, 1962, a time when space exploration was really just getting started.  (At that point, NASA’s biggest accomplishment was John Glenn orbiting the Earth three times.)  In his speech, Kennedy announced the impossible – that we were going to get a man to the moon by the end of the decade.

Here is a portion of that speech: 

“There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet.  Its hazards are hostile to us all.  Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again.  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 to 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.” 

JFK’s ambitious goal was a success.  American astronauts landed on the moon on July 20, 1969.  Seven years after his speech.  

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