Not long ago, I saw a television documentary which replayed that famous clip of JFK proposing to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. That declaration was presented (as it is always presented) as an example of the American "can do" spirit. In short: The clip is used to engender nationalism.
Here is the part of the story that they never tell you: JFK wanted the US and the USSR to go on a joint mission to the moon -- an exercise in cooperation which would have done much to end or to mitigate the cold war. Just ten days before he died, JFK codified this approach with National Security Action Memorandum 271, which you can read here
He also gave a speech
to the UN on September 20 on this topic. I don't know if footage of the speech exists -- if it does, the people who produce television documentaries are either unaware of it or prefer to keep it hidden.
"...Finally, in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity -- in the field of space -- there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the moon."
"Space offers no problem of sovereignty; by resolution of this assembly, the members of the United Nations have forsworn any claims to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply."
"Why, therefore, should man's first flight to the moon be a matter of natural competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research construction and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries -- indeed of all the world -- cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending some day in this decade to the moon, not the representatives of a single nations, but the representatives of all of our countries."
This blog usually concentrates on current events. But in this era of historical revisionism, we should occasionally try to educate today's young people about what actually happened. JFK's dream was not
fulfilled; his course was changed.