Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.There are so many things to enjoy about all this. There's the preposterous boyish Tom Swiftery of it all -- Kennedy might as well have been a fictional President somewhere in the oeuvre of Robert Heinlein. There's the sanctimonious bilge about "freedom" and "peace", uneasily coexisting with the imagery of coming in first and exercising "leadership". There's the trademark shallow but grandiloquent Kennedy rhetoric -- "man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred."
Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.
But I think the best part is Lyndon Johnson, squirming irrepressibly behind the boy President, and obviously barely able to keep from laughing out loud. He so badly wants to elbow somebody in the ribs and say, "He wants to go to the moon? He's already on the moon!"