We Choose to Go to The Moon
On 12, Sept. 1962, John Kennedydelivered a speech that would melodramatically shape the direction ofthe US`s efforts over the coming decade. The speech, titled "wechoose to go to the moon" was delivered before the before alarge congregation assembled at Rice University. The speech was aunique communication to Congress on pressing state needs, and it wasgiven at the time of the cold war between the US and Russia. OnOctober 4th, 1957 Russia created history by successfully launchingSputnik 1 into the orbit. Also, they had successfully sent YuriAlekseyevich Gagarin into the orbit, making them the first nation toplace a man in space. This sparked an international race, termed"Space Race," in one of America`s action packed era. Thisrace happened between 1957 and 1969, at the climax of the Cold Warthat ensued following the Second World War (Barnett, 2013). The USand Russia (USSR) were the main participants in this race. Because oftheir enmity in the cold war, when Russia began the space race, eachof the two nations felt that it needed to be the leader in spaceexploration. Victory in this race was significant because it wouldshow the world which country was superior not only in scientificachievements but also in economic and political structures.
In order to take part in this race,both countries had to invest heavily in their space programs.President Kennedy had his eyes set on the prize that he was aware itwould cost Americans billions of dollars. On May 25, 1961, he hadaddressed the US Congress to support the space mission at the cost of$5.4 a year. Kennedy knew that in order to carry out such a massiveprogram he would also need the support of the American citizens, whowere not very supportive of the program before the speech. Therefore,on 12 Sept. 1962 he delivered a speech, "we choose to go to themoon," to over thirty thousand Americans gathered at RiceUniversity in Houston. The circumstances and the setting of thespeech aimed at the climax of the cold war and the commencement of‘space race` of the Soviets versus the US, was highly important. Inthis speech, Kennedy not only used utilized his credibility, andfacts, but also toys with the emotions of the audience to convincethe American people that a journey to the moon would benefit thenation by advancing it scientifically, economically, as well aspolitically. President Kennedy successfully utilizes pathos, ethos,and logos in his speech to persuade the American people intosupporting his cause ("John F. Kennedy: Address at RiceUniversity in Houston on the Nation`s Space Effort", 2017).
In the speech, Kennedy achieves theethos appeal because he was the most popular president in theAmerican history after the Second World War. He had more credibilitywith the American citizens in several ways. He was a very well knownand loved president, and his public approval ranged at an average of70.2 percent throughout his presidency. A high percentage of thepublic trusted in him and listened to what he said. Kennedy`spresidential ratings helped a lot in creating his credibility whengiving the speech, and greatly raised the chances that Congress wouldact on the points itemized in the speech. Also, the Congress had toact on Kennedy`s words or risk a retaliation from their electoratesduring the upcoming congressional elections. He also achieves ethosappeal because was the president of the US, which is a big positionof authority. To attain this position, one must be widelyknowledgeable on the independent agencies and other departments underthe president`s control, which included NASA. President Kennedy hadalso proven his ability to make good decisions in the past. Forinstance, he had tackled the Cuban missile crisis quite well,concluding it peacefully with the Russians removing their nuclearmissiles from Cuba. Due to this, the audience felt that he would beable to make right decisions with the space program that would movethe country forward. He also demonstrates that he had done hisresearch by consulting with economist and scientists, showing theaudience that his capability to make informed decisions regarding theprogram. ("John F. Kennedy: Address at Rice University inHouston on the Nation`s Space Effort", 2017). Kennedy is honestand admits that it is going to be expensive. Also, he admits it isgoing to be "dangerous and what we are going to get out of it?".So, he used a lot of concession and honesty in the speech. The ethossupports the purpose presented by showing that the president ishonest and about his expectations, hence should be believed. Inaddition, Kennedy humanizes himself in the speech. He makes somejokes and talks about party working in the very beginning. He triesto use these things together to connect the audience. Kennedy says"Rice play Texas," which is a football team and is tellingthe audience that Rice is a school of tough people who do not give upon challenges thus he makes the audience to like them because theyare a football of power.
Kennedy uses the pathos to appealto the emotions, self-interest, and a sense of identity of hisaudience. For instance, he uses pathos appeal to impart a sense ofpride in his American audience by stating to them that they wereexpediting to the moon because it was a commendable challenge to theAmerican citizens. The statement also tells the audience that theycould not be left behind in the space race because they would losetheir superiority at the global platform. Kennedy says ‘We meet ata college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in aState noted for strength, and we stand in need of all three,".By specifically affirming where he is, he elicits emotions ofacceptance and pride from the audience. He also goes through ahistory of massive discoveries and achievements the US has made overthe past years. This appeals to the emotions of the audience becauseit makes them believe that space has many openings for innovation andachievement. Also, Kennedy appeals to the audience by showing greatconfidence in the capability of his country. Examples of this appealare brought out in the statements such as "I believe that thisnation…." The US had not yet put a man in space, but Kennedydemonstrated believe in the US that they could do so soon. Suchstatements coming from the president of America would highly increasethe support for the space missions. He narrates the story of GeorgeMallory, the man who climbed Mount Everest, and when asked why heclimbed it he answered that "because it is there." Bygiving this story, he was able to convince the audience that Americashould go to space "because it is there." That the moon wasthere for their exploration. Also by Kennedy admitting that they arebehind in "manned spacecraft," he instills some fear to theaudience regarding their performance in the race and this would makethem support anything that will improve the performance of theirnation. He also says "…and we have vowed that we shall not seeit governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedomand peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled withweapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge andunderstanding.". Without saying blankly, Kennedy pushes thisstatement to show the dangers of Russia getting to the moon first. Heurges the people that they should not take long in their ventures,and he states that "this country of the United States was notbuilt by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them.This country was conquered by those who moved forward–and so willspace."
Another pathos appeal in Kennedy`sspeech was his appeal to the Americans to be more patriotic. Allthrough the speech, Kennedy puts on a pedestal the US as aprototypical example of a free nation and reveals the Soviet Union asa nation of tyranny. At the beginning of the speech he terms the coldwar and the space race as a war between "freedom and tyranny."This statement presents Russia to the audience as a corrupt andtyrannical country, while romanticizes America as a free country.Later on in the speech, he states that they are going to spacebecause what humanity must embark on, free people must share fully.This statement also brings out America as a free nation, exciting thepassion of the American audience. Kennedy also uses deleterious termssuch as "head-start" and "exploit" to refer toRussia and its actions ("John F. Kennedy: Address at RiceUniversity in Houston on the Nation`s Space Effort", 2017). Thisdamages the character of Russia as the projected enemy in the speech.By imaging the Soviets Union as a threat to the important example ofa free country called America, Kennedy appeals more to thenationalistic freedom trait of the American audience, garnering muchpublic support for the items outlined in the speech. Kennedy alsorevisits and awakens patriotism in the audience by saying "Wechoose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, notbecause they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goalwill serve to organize and measure the best of our energies andskills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept,one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, andthe others, too"
President Kennedy employs the logosappeal to bring out to the American people and the world at largethat although it is dangerous and expensive to go to space, it isworth doing it to promote peace and cooperation, and to advance humanunderstanding of the universe around us. He creates logical argumentsand shows that he is conversant with both the need for andconsequences of the exploration missions of the space, thus increasehis credibility and that of his words. He also talks about theprevious achievements of the US, for instance, "Within theselast 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the earth. Some 40of them were made in the United States of America, and they were farmore sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to the people ofthe world than those of the Soviet Union."
The use of logical arguments,facts, and statistics is one of the most influential tools ofrhetoric employed by Kennedy in his speech. He quotes severalstatistics to both further create the ethos and to assure theAmericans that their money is not being wasted. He also usesstatistics to motivate his audience. For instance, he compares thecost of going to the moon with what people spent on tobacco productsannually in the US ("John F. Kennedy: Address at Rice Universityin Houston on the Nation`s Space Effort", 2017). In one of hisstatements, he challenges the people to aim for improved knowledgeand that the improved knowledge would be attained through the spacemissions. Kennedy also employs logical arguments to appeal to boththe Congress and the public to support their journey to the moon. Hejustifies the expense of the investment in researching newtechnologies required to land on the moon by highlighting thesecondary benefits of such technologies to the nation. He points outexamples of such benefits as for weather observations and other newtravel methods beyond the moon, perhaps to the sun (Berryman, 2012).He also refers to the benefits the previous space journeys brought totheir respective nations to justify that America`s investment andresearch in space travel would equally benefit them. By choosing hiswords well as well as different appeals, Kennedy creates an argumentwhich is well presented and convincing. The long-term relevance ofhis speech and its categorical effect as an example of artisticrhetoric and influence was proven when an American astronaut becamethe first human being to land on the moon in 1969.
The speech of President John F.Kennedy on the US`s space program artfully employed rhetoricalappeal, considering the intended audience as well as the context ofthe speech. He uses logos, ethos, and pathos to persuade hisaudience that the space program is worth being supported. Kennedy wasable to successfully convince the Congress sending a man to the moon,and the mission was funded. The ultimate success of Apollo Mission inlanding men on the moon and bringing them back marked America`svictory in the space race, which also symbolized its victory andeventually re-established the public and the global confidence inAmerica`s strength.
Berryman, J. (2012). Challenge toApollo: the Soviet Union and the space race, 1945–1975. SpacePolicy, 18(1), 75-76.
Barnett, N. (2013). ‘RUSSIA WINSSPACE RACE’. Media History, 19(2), 182-195.
John F. Kennedy: Address at Rice University in Houston on theNation`s Space Effort. (2017). Presidency.ucsb.edu.Retrieved 16 March 2017, fromhttp://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=8862&st=we+choose+to+go+to+the+moon&st1=
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