Kennedy’s moon speech 50 years later: ‘Crazy’ and unifying

Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy said Americans should make it their goal to go to the moon, it’s clear he was aiming not just for space, but unity at home.

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy told Congress, “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 Earth.”

According to blogger Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo, NASA didn’t have a concrete plan to do that. Scientists had a general idea that they could get someone to the moon, but no real method in place. So why did Kennedy give the speech, which Diaz says was “crazy?”

The rhetoric, he says, was intended to show the U.S. wouldn’t just compete with the Soviets. They could beat them in the space race.

“The United States couldn’t afford a Red Moon,” Diaz wrote. “Even worse, Kennedy was also feeling the pressure from the Bay of Pigs fiasco, which happened about a month earlier. He needed a big announcement like this, even if it was something completely crazy in retrospect.”

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