With the Soviet Union having put the first man in space just a month before it became a personal goal of President John F. Kennedy to send an American to the moon by the end of the decade of the 1960’s.  He made it a national priority and a mission he said all Americans would share, saying "it wouldn’t be one man going to the moon - it will be an entire nation."

The U.S. and Soviet Union were locked in an arms race and Kennedy pledged support of an American space program that would eventually dwarf the Soviet program in technology and investment.

But it went beyond that.  It would also be a political victory for democracy over communism.  He challenged Congress to find the money to speed up the pace of the space program, because whatever we learn in space the whole world would share.

Kennedy never got to see his goal.  Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon in 1969 six years after Kennedy’s assassination.  But it fulfilled what he wanted America to do.  Kennedy’s address to Congress pushing for a national priority on reaching the moon happened on this date in 1961.

SOURCE: The History Channel

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