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John F. Kennedy "We Choose To Go To The Moon" Speech

Updated: Oct 12, 2020


"We choose to go to the Moon", officially titled as the Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, is a speech delivered by United States President John F. Kennedy about the effort to reach the Moon to a large crowd gathered at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas, on September 12, 1962. The speech, largely written by Kennedy advisor and speechwriter Ted Sorensen, was intended to persuade the American people to support the Apollo program, the national effort to land a man on the Moon. Here is a clip from the speech:


In his speech, Kennedy characterized space as a new frontier, invoking the pioneer spirit that dominated American folklore. He infused the speech with a sense of urgency and destiny, and emphasized the freedom enjoyed by Americans to choose their destiny rather than have it chosen for them. Although he called for competition with the Soviet Union, Kennedy also proposed making the Moon landing a joint project. Also, known as JFK's "the moonshot speech", it is still one of his most inspiring speeches:



The speech resonated widely and is still remembered, although at the time there was disquiet about the cost and value of the Moon-landing effort. Kennedy's goal was realized, in July 1969, with the successful Apollo 11 mission. Here is a clip of the speech against actual photos of the landing on July 20, 1969:



Here is an animated sequence that illustrates what Kennedy explained that in a historical context of the evolution of 50,000 years of the history of humankind to just 50 years, we have been able to achieve incredible things at an accelerated pace in the very short period of time that we have inhabited the earth:



"We Choose To Go To The Moon' defines the attitude and spirit that incorporate the essence of American Idealism. This speech boldly sets out to achieve the (at that time) "impossible feat" of landing a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth. Kennedy did not live to see his vision become a reality, although seven years later, on July 20, 1969, the message would go on to inspire generations to come in making their "impossible dreams" a reality.


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