By Emma Kaden and Chris Talgo

On September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy declared, “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.”

Unfortunately, Kennedy didn’t live to see his monumental goal achieved on July 20, 1969, when the United States landed on the Moon. At the time, such a feat was inconceivable. Yet the United States has accomplished many feats that seemed impossible.

From winning the War for Independence to constructing a transcontinental railroad to building the Panama Canal to defeating the Nazis and Japanese in World War II, Americans have always risen to the occasion. Not only do Americans accept extraordinary challenges, we have been the world’s leader in innovation. The United States is the birthplace of aviation, the assembly line, and the internet, among other modern marvels.

In the 1960s, the United States was engaged with the Soviet Union in the Space Race. The ultimate goal was to land on the Moon, and for many years, the Soviets were well ahead of the United States in this quest. However, the United States, never one to back down, ultimately triumphed.

Unlike any other country, the United States is able to achieve the previously unimaginable. Is this one of the reasons why America is so exceptional? If so, America wouldn’t be exceptional without these three fundamental traits: diligence, perseverance, and ingenuity. These essential characteristics were the driving force behind NASA’s Moon landing 49 years ago. However, after the spectacular Moon mission, the United States turned its attention to other priorities, such as fighting the war on poverty, defeating communism, fighting the war on drugs, promoting global democracy, and combating terrorism.

At the dawn of the 21st century, America has set its eyes back on the stars. When President Donald Trump entered office, he laid out America’s plan for reemergence into space exploration.

“The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery,” said Trump. “It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints — we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.”

After years of falling back in the modern space race, the United States is prepared to leapfrog over the competition in a stunning liftoff. As Trump outlined, the next leg in the space race is to make it to Mars—and maybe even colonize the Red Planet.

Stay tuned, Americans! Soon enough, the stars and stripes will reach the stars and wave hello from the Moon and Mars.

49 Years After Moon Landing, NASA Prepares for Next Frontier
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