It was an era when Congress would respond when the President challenged America to be great, and Congress would respond positively.
On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy delivered a special message to Congress, on the challenges facing the U.S. around the world, in continuing to build free market economies, and continuing to advance in science, as means of promoting America’s future. He closed with the words that have become so famous. From the Apollo 11 Channel, excerpts from the speech, via Fox Movietone news:
History from the Apollo 11 Channel:
In an address to a Joint session of the United States Congress, Kennedy announces full presidential support for the goal to “commit…before this decade is out, to landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth” and urges Congress to appropriate the necessary funds, eventually consuming the largest financial expenditure of any nation in peacetime.
Though Kennedy had initially been convinced that NASA should attempt a manned mission to Mars, NASA Associate Administrator Robert Seamans spent three days and nights working, ultimately successfully, to convince him otherwise.
The complete speech is 46 minutes long. The JFK Library has a longer excerpt in good video I haven’t figured out how to embed here, but it’s worth your look. The Library also features the entire speech in audio format.
Can you imagine a president making such a challenge today?
- President Kennedy and the Apollo Commitment: A Unique Moment in Time (launiusr.wordpress.com)
- 1961-Flashback-JFK Says we’re going to the Moon! Almanac of Absurdities blatant rerun 5.25.2013 (timemarcheson.wordpress.com)
- We’re Going to the Moon (newgrandmas.com)
- From NASA’s history site:
- Links to full text and audio versions of Kennedy’s May 25, 1961 speech, as well as other key speeches and documents
- Pdf versions of key original documents
- Lots of information about Project Apollo and anniversary sites
- A cool site devoted to the 30th anniversary of Apollo 11 in 1999
- “Washington Goes to the Moon”: A two-part radio program produced by WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C. that deals with the political story behind Project Apollo.
A lot of people like that photo of President Kennedy before Congress!
And then, rather coincidentally, 40 years ago on May 25: