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Remembering America's pioneering spirit

Let me finish tonight with today's takeoff, the last takeoff of the U.S.

Let me finish tonight with today's takeoff, the last takeoff of the U.S. space shuttle.

A million people were at Cape Canaveral to watch it, this 135th shuttle mission, the beginning of a long dry spell in American space travel.

How fitting - or fateful - that the Atlantis shuttle took off from the same launch pad as the Apollo astronauts.

Let's read what the president who did the launching, said.   

President John F. Kennedy at Rice University (1962): The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it 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 the race for space.

And here he is offering up that same go-for-it spirit that he and America personified.

President John F. Kennedy (1962): 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 question - isn't it yours- is whether this country is still fueled by that same pioneer spirit that led Lindbergh across the Atlantic, the great John Glenn orbiting the earth and Jack Kennedy to the moon. Do you "hope" it is!