Helen Goggins: Kennedy in Space

Following the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik and astronaut Shepard, John F. Kennedy declared a united front of freedom, asserting American domination over their enemy. He delivered his address on May 25, 1961 to Congress, attempting to build support for legislation he was trying to enact. President Kennedy drew on American nationalism when he stated, “We stand for freedom. That is our conviction for ourselves–that is our only commitment to others.” His strong, patriotic approach was used to convince listeners to agree with his platform because it stood for freedom and prosperity. The speech was about forty minutes long and covered many “necessary measures” needed for the improvement of the United States. One of the most important messages that was addressed was discussing the expansion of the space program.

Throughout the speech, Kennedy remains steadfast in his message of self-improvement for the country when he said, “We stand, as we have always stood from our earliest beginnings, for the independence and equality of all nations.” His speech was created with the intent to inform Congress of the necessary changes needed to create a strong America. Kennedy discussed economic and social progress, programs, self-defense, space and other initiatives he believed were crucial in the improvement of the United States.

The space program was clearly a major factor within Kennedy’s address. He stated, “We have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not.” He requests additional funding because he believed the growth of the program. Kennedy did not address the Soviet Union in great detail but made it clear space was important because the progress of the program ensured the development of patriotic and intellectual growth.

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“John F. Kennedy Speeches.” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Accessed October 19, 2017. https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/JFK-Speeches/United-States-Congress-Special-Message_19610525.aspx.

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