Part 1: 'RACE TO SPACE' SPEECHby President John F. Kennedy (1961)Direction: Read and annotate speech and answer the questions. BACKGROUNDJohn F. Kennedy (1917-1963) served as 35th President of the United States. He was president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights Movement, and the beginning of the U.S. involvement in the VietnamWar. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. He delivered this speech about space to a large audience at Rice University in Houston, Texas in May of 1961. A month earlier, a Russian had become the first human to orbit the Earth. By 1969, Americans succeeded in being the first to walk on the moon.1President Pitzer1, Mr. Vice President, Governor, Congressman Thomas, Senator Wiley, and Congressman Miller, Mr. Webb, Mr. Bell, scientists, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen:2I appreciate your president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assure you that my first lecture will be very brief.3I am delighted to be here and I’m particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.4We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a State noted for strength, and we stand in need of allthree, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.5Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the factthat this Nation’s own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.6No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man’s recorded history in a time span of but a half a century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart Annotations 1Pitzer was president of Rice University at the time.
with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engineprovided a new source of power.7Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America’s new spacecraft succeedsin reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.