Fifty years ago today, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy stood behind a podium at Rice University and dared us to put human footprints on the moon. The speech has become one of the most iconic moments of JFK’s presidency, a clarion call for us to dream big and pursue that goal because. Kennedy’s speech is famous for its call for us to go to the moon because it seemed like such a daunting goal. It was a challenge rooted in a belief that, for all our faults and failings, we as a species are capable of overcoming those and achieving great things.
It’s the sort of optimistic and daring challenge that seems all but impossible in today’s political landscape, a quagmire where each side is focused primarily on wounding the other, and where compromise is a dirty word. Wouldn’t it be nice if we found a way to set our differences aside, realize that we’re all one people, and instead strive for even greater accomplishments?
In the spirit of that hope, here is Kennedy’s speech, delivered five decades ago.