"We intend to be first" – Rice University Address, Sep. 12, 1962

JFK Moon Speech

Addressing the students and faculty of Rice University in September 1961, Kennedy made a bold promise: that the United States would send a man to the moon before the end of the decade. He proclaimed the moon an obstacle to be conquered by man, a stepping stone of American and human progress.

Much like his Inaugural Address, the Rice University speech is best remembered by an iconic chiasmus phrase: "We choose to go to the moon. 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." 

But the speech shows an eagerness to compete with the Soviet Union just months after the Bay of Pigs misfire, briefly discussing the amount of American satellite launches which far outnumbered, and were "far more sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to the people of the world," than those from the USSR. Kennedy also touches upon the notion of utilizing space as a means of national defense – that U.S. occupany in outer space will help ensure peace outside the reaches of Earth's atmosphere.

In touching upon the notion of the United States as leaders, Kennedy states what could be considered a cornerstone of the American social rhetoric: "Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first." 

FULL TEXT

JFK - We choose to go to the Moon, full length