John F.
Kennedy’s spirit remains alive and intensely in my heart. That momentous day
when he vowed that we would “land men on the moon before the end of this decade”
brought me to my feet with tears in my eyes. Sadly, while I was deeply embroiled
in Navy rocket programs the word came he had been assassinated. Tears flowed
again, that time from grave loss.

 

The essence
of that spirit I hold so dear is, in his words, “vigah.” With his words, his
actions and his strong belief in the future of America and especially its young
people, he infused all of us with “vigah.” With that infusion we did the near
impossible and put men on the moon as directed; safely and on time.

 

As we ponder
whether we will venture anywhere in space in the next decade, we stammer and
lose faith.  Wherever it must originate,
however it will be communicated, and whenever it will take hold, we must
re-infuse our belief in ourselves, our future and especially our dreams to
explore all that surrounds us.  We must
regain “vigah.” We must do it now, and we must impart it throughout the space
community, the Congress and our President.

 

We are a “can
do” people. The impossible is an irritant that drives us to succeed against
seemingly dreadful odds.  Why are we now
revoking that can do spirit?  Whatever
the initial budget, we must find a way. Whatever the technological hurdles, we
must find a way. Whatever the naysayers shout, we must press on.  Whatever it takes, we will do it, and we will
do it with ‘vigah.”