5. We Choose to Go to the Moon by John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy gave this speech at Rice University in Houston, Texas, on September 12, 1962. In the speech he reaffirmed America’s commitment to landing a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s. He was emphatic about the need to solve the mysteries of space and defended the enormous expense of the space program.

President Pitzer, Mr. Vice President, Governor, Congressman Thomas, Senator Wiley, and Congressman Miller, Mr. Webb, Mr. Bell, scientists, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen:

I appreciate your president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assure you that my first lecture will be very brief.

I am delighted to be here and I’m particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.

We 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 all three, 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.

Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that 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.

No 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 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 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 engine provided a new source of power. Newton 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 if America’s new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. 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 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 which we intend to win, and the others, too.

The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year’s space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5.4 billion a year – a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year.

Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United States, for we have given this program a high national priority – even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now now what benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which heave not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun – almost as hot as it is here today – and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out – then we must be bold. I’m the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay cool for a minute.

However, I think we’re going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don’t think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the Sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the terms of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.

And I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United States of America.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why he wanted to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.”

Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most bazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked. Thank you.

4. No Such Thing as a Vacation From Reading by Dr. Roderick R. Paige, U.S. Secretary of Education

No Such Thing as a Vacation From Reading by Dr. Roderick R. Paige, U.S. Secretary of Education. Dr. Roderick R. Paige, Secretary of Education spoke at the Summer reading Campaign in Wheaton, Maryland on June 27. 2001. In this speech he emphasized reading as the foundation of all learning.

I want to thank several people for joining us today. Lynne Cheney, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Jerry Weast, the Superintendent of Montgomery County Schools, and Maurice Travillian, the Assistant State Superintendent for Library Services.

I also want to recognize Susan Neuman, who is here with me. Susan is an expert on early childhood education, and I am delighted that the President has nominated Susan to be Assistant Secretary of Education for Elementary and Secondary Education. I also want to mention another of his outstanding nominees for our Department, Russ Whitehurst, an expert on reading instruction who could not be with us today. If confirmed, Russ will head up education research, and Susan will use his findings in Department programs.

As all of you know, President Bush believes that reading is the foundation of all learning. The President’s budget calls for an investment of $5 billion in reading over the next 5 years, and his ‘Reading First’ program will ensure that every child can read by the third grade. ‘Reading First’ is part of the President’s No Child Left Behind plan and the related bills that were quickly passed earlier this month by the Senate and in May by the House. The hard work of Republicans and Democrats on this bill so far has been impressive, but it is not over. I hope that the conference committee can produce a final bill quickly – and with clear and focused goals for every dollar of spending – so schools can prepare for Reading First and for the reforms that lie ahead. The school year won’t wait for Washington, so we need to make sure that the conference begins so regulations and rules can follow. For this Congress, it is a defining moment. This bill, if we succeed, will help determine the future of millions of American children for decades to come. Research shows that children, especially disadvantaged children who are not exposed to reading at home, learn new skills during the school year and then forget them over the summer months.

One study says children can lose up to 25 percent of their reading and math skills during the summer. We are here today because, if we can get children to use these skills regularly, they won’t lose them. To address this problem, families should read with their children during the summer months – everyday. For this reason, I am delighted to announce the launch of a new campaign, “No Such Thing as a Vacation from Reading.”

This campaign is part of the Department of Education’s Partnership for Family Involvement in Education – one that involves businesses, community organizations, faith-based organizations, foundations, schools, and other groups to support the strong relationship between children and adults that are critical to learning.

The brochure and poster encourage adults to understand the significance of summer reading, and to take action by committing to read with a child every day during the summer. These materials will be available at the sites of our partners. Other people who are interested in the program may call 1-800-USA-LEARN.

3. D-Day Prayer by Franklin D. Roosevelt

On June 6, 1944, Allied troops invaded German-occupied coast of Normandy in France. The gigantic D-Day invasion began at 6:30 A.M. and by midnight about 132,000 Allied solders had gotten ashore. Allied losses on D-Day included 2,500 killed and 8,500 wounded. President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote this prayer, originally entitled ‘Let Our Hearts Be Stout’ and read it to the nation on radio on the evening of that day.

My Fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at the moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far. And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer.

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tired, by night and by day, without rest – until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home – fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them – help us, almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice. Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our effors.

Give us strength, too – strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit over be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment – let not these dater us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace – a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.


Thank you, Ms. Hicks.

2. The Ballot or the Bullet by Malcolm X

Before Malcolm X became a leader of African-Americans, he had sold drugs and been imprisoned for burglary. After release he rejected his criminal past and became the official spokesman for the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X delivered this speech in the Audubon Ballroom on Easter Sunday, March 29, 1964. Eleven months after this speech, he was shot and killed by assassins in the same auditorium. After his death, Malcolm X’s “ballot or bullet” decree became the slogan of Black Power groups and caught the attention of the press.

It is very very heartening and encouraging for me to see so many of our people take time to come out, especially on Easter Sunday night.

You and I are not a people who are used to going anywhere on Easter night – or on Easter Sunday night – to hear anything to do with African-Americans, or so-called Negroes.

One of the reasons that it is bad for us to continue to just refer to ourselves as the so-called Negro, that’s negative. When we say so-called Negro that’s pointing out what we aren’t, but it isn’t telling us what we are. We are Africans, and we happen to be in America. We are not Americans. We are a people who formerly were Africans who were kidnaped and brought to America. Our forefathers weren’t the Pilgrims. We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; the rock was landed on us. We were brought here against our will; we were not brought here to be made citizens. We were not brought here to enjoy the constitutional gifts that they speak so beautifully about today. Because we weren’t brought here to be made citizens – today, now that we’ve become awakened to some degree, and we begin to ask for those things which they say are supposedly for all Americans, they look upon us with hostility and unfriendliness.

The first step for those of us who believe in the philosophy of Black Nationalism is to realize that the problem begins right here. The first problem is right here. We have to elevate our thinking right here first – not just the thinking of a handful, that won’t do. But the thinking of 22 million black people in this country must be elevated. They must be made to see it as we see it. They must be made to think as we think, and then they’ll be ready to act just as we’re ready to act.

The black nationalists don’t realize this. The black nationalists will fail as other groups have failed. Any philosophy that you have that can’t be implemented is no good. A “preaching” or a gospel is no better than its ability to be carried out in a manner that will make it beneficial to the people who accept it.

When you have a philosophy or a gospel – I don’t care whether it’s a religious gospel, a political gospel, an economic gospel or a social gospel – if it’s not going to do something for you and me right here and right now – to hell with that gospel! In the past, most of the religious gospels that you and I have heard have benefited only those who preach it. Most of the political gospels that you and I have heard have benefited only the politicians. The social gospels have benefited only the sociologists.

You and I need something right now that’s going to benefit all of us. That’s going to change the community in which we live, not try to take us somewhere else. If we can’t live here, we never will live somewhere else.

What is it that makes it difficult for the philosophy of nationalism to spread among the so-called Negroes? Number one, they think they have a stake in America. They think they have an investment in this country. Which we do; We’ve invested 310 years of slave labor. 310 years, every day of which your and my mother and father worked for nothing. Not eight hours a day – there was no union in that day. They worked from sunup until sundown – from can’t see in the morning until can’t see at night. They never had a day off! And on Sunday they were allowed to sit down and sing about when they died they wouldn’t be slaves no more – when they died, they wouldn’t be slaves no more. They’d go up in the sky and every day would be Sunday. That’s a shame.

And it is that 310 years of slave labor that was my and your contribution into this particular economy and political system.

You and I should let them know now that either we collect our investment right here, right now, and then if we can’t collect it here, our people will then be ready to go back home. Let’s go ahead and join in with them and make these men pay these back wages. Make him give us the back pay.

Let’s join in – if this is what the Negro wants, let’s join in. Let’s show him how to struggle. Let’s show him how to fight. Let’s show him how to bring a real revolution.

Let’s make him stop jiving! If you’re interested in freedom, you need some judo, you need some karate – you need all the things that will help you fight for freedom. If we don’t resort to the bullet, then immediately we have to take steps to use the ballot. Equality of opportunity, if the constitution at the present time, then change it. Either it offers it, or it doesn’t offer it. If it offers it – good, then give it to us – if it doesn’t offer it, then change it. You don’t need a debate. You don’t need a filibuster. You need some action!

So what you and I have to do is get involved. You and I have to be right there breathing down their throats. Every time they look over their shoulders, we want them to see us.

We want to make them – we want to make them – pass the strongest civil-rights bill they ever passed, because we know that even after they pass it, they can’t enforce it.

In order to do this, we’re starting a voters’ registration drive. We have to get everybody in Harlem registered, not as Democrats or Republicans, but registered as Independents. We’re going to organize a corps of brothers and sisters who, after this city is mapped out, they wan’t leave one apartment-house door not knocked on. There won’t be a door in Harlem that will not have been knocked on to see that whatever black face lives behind that door is registered to vote by a certain time this year. Nobody will have an excuse not to be registered. We’ll ask him to let us see your card. If you don’t have the sense of responsibility to get registered, we’ll move you out of town. It’s going to be the ballot or the bullet…..

1. Women’s Rights Are Human Rights by Hillary Rodham Clinton

This speech was delivered by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former First Lady of the United States at the plenary session of the fourth UN World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, Sept. 5. 1993.

Mrs. Mongella, Undersecretary Kittani, distinguished delegates and guests: I would like to thank the Secretary General of the United Nations for inviting me to be part of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. This is truly a celebration – a celebration of the contributions women make in every aspect of life; in the home, on the job, in their communities, as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, learners, workers, citizens and leaders.

It is also a coming together, much the way women come together every day in every country.

By gathering in Beijing, we are focusing world attention on issues that matter most in the lives of women and their families; access to education, health care, jobs and credit, the chance to enjoy basic legal and human rights and participate fully in the political life of their countries.

There are some who question the reason for this conference.

Let them listen to the voices of women in their homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces.

There are some who wonder whether the lives of women and girls matter to economic and political progress around the globe.

Let them look at the women gathered here and at Huairou – the homemakers, nurses, teachers, lawyers, policymakers, and women who run their own businesses.

It is conferences like this that compel governments and people everywhere to listen, look and face the world’s most pressing problems.

Wasn’t it after the women’s conference in Nairobi ten years ago that the world focused for the first time on the crisis of domestic violence?

Organization forum, where government officials, NGOs, and individual citizens are working on ways to address the health problems of women and girls.

Tomorrow, I will attend a gathering of the United Nations Development Fund for Women. There, the discussion will focus on local – and highly successful – programs that give hard-working women access to credit so they can improve their own lives and the lives of their families.

What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish.

That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every nation on our planet has a stake in the discussion that takes place here.

The great challenge of this Conference is to give voice to women everywhere whose experiences go unnoticed, whose words go unheard.

We need to understand that there is no formula for how women should lead their lives. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Each woman deserves the chance to realize her God-given potential.

We also must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected and protected.

We also must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected and protected.

Our goals for this Conference, to strengthen families and societies by empowering women to take greater control over their own destinies, cannot be fully achieved unless all governments – here and around the world – accept their responsibility to protect and promote internationally recognized human rights.

The international community has long acknowledged – and recently affirmed at Vienna – that both women and men are entitled to a range of protections and personal freedoms, from the right of personal security to the right to determine freely the number and spacing of the children they bear.

No one should be forced to remain silent for fear of religious or political persecution, arrest, abuse or torture.

Tragically, women are most often the ones whose human rights are violated.

Even in the late 20th century, the rape of women continues to be used as an instrument of armed conflict. Women and children make up a large majority of the world’s refugees. When women are excluded from the political process, they become even more vulnerable to abuse.

I believed that, on the eve of a new millennium, it is time to break our silence. It is time for use to say here in Beijing, and the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.

These abuses have continued because, for too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words.

The voices of this conference and of the women at Huairou must be heard loud and clear; It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.

It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.

It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.

It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.

If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, it is that human rights are women’s rights – and women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard.

Women must enjoy the right to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries if we want freedom and democracy to thrive and endure.

Now it is time to act on behalf of women everywhere. If we take bold steps to better the lives of women, we will be taking bold steps to better the lives of children and families too.

Let this Conference be our – and the world’s – call to action.

And let us beed the call so that we can create a world in which every woman is treated with respect and dignity, every boy and girl is loved and cared for equally, and every family has the hop of a strong and stable future.

Thank you very much.

God’s blessings on you, your work and all who will benefit from it.