50 years ago JFK said 'lets put a man on the moon.' Now It's time we begin a new era of industrial innovation.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's challenge to send a man to the moon within a decade. His request that the nation commit to achieving this profound goal ushered the U.S. into an area of unprecedented technological innovation, and confirmed America’s status as the world's industrial leader.
Kennedy’s appeal for the U.S. to quickly and fully fund the lunar landing program came on the heels of the launch of Sputnik and evidence of other advanced technologies being developed abroad. As he put it, “if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take.”
President Obama reflected upon Kennedy’s call to action during his most recent State of the Union Address, arguing that the nation’s current economic conditions must serve our generation’s “Sputnik moment:”
"Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon….But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs."
"This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race…We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people."
Other politicians have also been touting the importance of strengthening our industrial base in order to remain at the forefront of technological innovation and to create American jobs. For example, potential 2012 presidential candidate and former Utah Governor and U.S. Ambassador to China John Huntsman echoed these sentiments when he recently called for an “industrial revolution…fueled by domestically produced energy and tax and regulatory reform.”
We hope that this 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's bold call for unprecedented technological innovation and the fact that the nation rose to his challenge serves as a reminder of what the U.S. is capable of accomplishing, and why we must continue to invest in our industrial base. In order to fully take advantage of our generation’s “sputnik moment” we must adopt a national manufacturing strategy that will help the U.S. once again stand as the world's industrial leader.
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