"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" (Kennedy). When John F. Kennedy said these famous words, he set the stage for one of the greatest accomplishments the United States of America has ever made. Over the course of that decade, the space race would be in full swing; a universal goal would unite the nation to achieve the dream of sending a man to the moon and safely back to earth. Through human determination, the United States made enough scientific breakthroughs to alter events back on planet earth. In one decade, this nation was able to prove that the sky is no longer the limit. How was the United States able to effectively accomplish such a colossal task, and what was the global significance at the time?
Why Go to the Moon?
As important of an endeavor as travelling to the moon was, a definite purpose to it is not immediately clear. However, it was a remarkable accomplishment for mankind, and the United States wanted to lead it. Millions of people watched the televised event because they knew this was an incredible advancement for humans (Redd). As Neil Armstrong made the first step, he summed up the point that this event would forever be an important achievement to the human race, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" (Armstrong 268). At times it may seem that the development of new technology is stalling, but the moon landing proves that man is and will continue to make advancements. Only 66 years passed between the first airplane by the Wright Brothers and the moon landing (Stimson).
At the time of the space race, the United States was in the midst of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Even in the early days of space travel many American people, including President Eisenhower, felt there was a competition that gave America the need to beat the Soviets in the space race (D'Antonio 23). This was to establish dominance and prove that America, backed by democracy and opposing communism, was destined to be the stronger international power. Those directly involved in space missions took their jobs seriously because they saw it as a key role in the Cold War (D'Antonio 26). The prevention of communism via the Cold War was crucial to Americans at the time of the space race, and they viewed this international competition as another way to prove democracy would succeed over communism.
Lastly, a main reason for the United States taking the financial burden of sending a man to the moon and back was nationalism. This must have been a drive, as the astronauts made a point to secure an American flag not only on the surface of the moon, but also on each of their suits (Chaikin 240-241). To secure the public's knowledge that this event was the doing of the United States, a phone call was made from the surface of the moon to President Richard Nixon (Redd). It was reasonable for the United States to use great resources required for space travel...