“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…”
–President John F. Kennedy
Last night I attended a presentation of The Blue-Sky Boys at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA. (If you’ve never been to the Barter Theatre, you need to make it a destination the next time you’re in southwestern Virginia–it’s a real treat.) To tell the story behind The Blue-Sky Boys, I’ll use the words of director Nicholas Piper, which started with the above quote from JFK.
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly fifty years since President Kennedy issued this challenge. These words could be delivered today and be just as relevant.
What a bold, courageous, impossible challenge that was. We were in a race for the moon against the Russians. In fact, if the Russians hadn’t put a man in space first, we probably would have never gotten to the moon in that decade. We needed that spark, that challenge, to ignite our efforts.
In retrospect, the point wasn’t to get to the moon. The point was to challenge ourselves–to stretch our imaginations, to have faith that with hard work, courage, creativity, teamwork and persistence, the impossible could become possible.
The ’60’s were a time of great upheaval–a year after JFK gave this speech, he would be assassinated. His brother, Robert, would be killed five years later, and so would Martin Luther King, Jr. We were embroiled in an unpopular war and our country was divided. We needed hope. We needed something to remind us how great we could be. Sound familiar?