On September 12 1962 John F. Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University where he declared his plan to send man to the moon within the decade.
I chose this as the first speech I would practice because it serves as a constant source of inspiration to me. This speech gives me chills each time I hear or read it, and it is the prime example, for me, of the power of speeches.
Why this speech?
Not only did President Kennedy cover so many of the important accomplishments of humanity, but he was able to put them into perspective.
50 years is hard enough to comprehend, but it is within a lifespan. He could have said “Less than 100 years ago we developed penicillin.” Instead, he said “less than a week ago.” A week in the context of 50 years is far more powerful than 100 years in context of 50,000 years. Most people can remember what they had for breakfast a week ago; while, I don’t know anyone who remembers first hand anything that happened 100 years ago.
Putting a man on the moon might have seemed impossible then, but when looking back over humanity’s accomplishments and seeing those accomplishments in the perspective of the exponential progression it took, it almost feels achievable.
That leads into the second piece I read from the speech, the why.
Reading this speech makes me want to be better, it plays chords on my soul reviving the sense of adventure I felt as a child when first discovering new things, new stories in books, hearing about new places and wanting to go there.
This speech speaks directly to the greater spirit of man, the transcendent urge to be, to conquer, and it channels that great desire towards one of the greatest achievements man could ever think of doing at that time. A challenge we haven’t achieved since.
And this speech has the power that it could do it. It could inspire man to reach that goal. and It did.