At the beginning of John F. Kennedy's, presidency the people of the United States of America were in crisis. Were our basic beliefs, our way of life the best, or was communism the wave of the future? After all, the Soviet Union surprised the world with their technical skills when it rocketed a satellite into Earth orbit. We could do little but watch in amazement. When the communists sent Yuri Gagarin, the first human into space, again we could only look on with awe and concern. Were democracy and freedom no longer competative in today's world? Our president, John F. Kennedy, could feel the discouragement. As leader of the free world he knew our country needed a bold stroke. In 1961 he proclaimed before Congress that America would reach the Moon "before the decade is out".
On September 12, 1962, at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas, John F. Kennedy gave America an historical challenge. He said, "the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward." And later, "we set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and 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."
Less that seven years later, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin realized John Kennedy's vision when they placed the stars and stripes on the surface of the Moon. Americans could feel confident again.