Quotation For The Week

From what I know, this is a pretty well known speech in Houston. In 1962, I was 1.5 years old and living in Corpus Christi, TX. Houston was becoming quiet well known by this time and I remember traveling up to Houston just to watch football games in the world famous Astrodome, circa 1965. And although I do not believe that we actually went to the Moon, I do believe John Kennedy knew his business when it came to speeches.

Kennedy, a Harvard graduate, no doubt was educated under the shadow of a great academic history. I can see it in his writing. To me, it is obvious that he is using a style outlined by Aristotle in his book, “Rhetoric”. Aristotle says that in order to be persuasive, always put the punch line at the end. For instance, Kennedy states in another speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. Had he said, “Ask what you can do for your country, not what your country can do for you”, it would not have been as effective.

Actually, I think he created that whole sentence just to use the Aristotelian form of the punch line. Same is true here: Why does Rice play Texas …… not because it is easy but because it is hard ….”. I think it is also obvious that he is just making up stuff to make a good speech, and I think he was successful. Studying Aristotle can get you a long way. Look at Kennedy, he became president.

But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the Moon. 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; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.

JFK, Rice Stadium, 1962

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