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In John F. Kennedy's Moon Speech on September 12, 1962 at Rice University, what does "and the others, too" refer to in the following excerpt?

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 specific part of the the following:

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.

It seems to be part of the "that challenge is..." is clause referring to going to the Moon, in which case I'm not sure what it would refer to.

Alternately, does it refer to "do the other things" earlier in the passage, or something else?

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  • $\begingroup$ this answer to Why are there no more manned missions to the Moon? discusses the speech, but I don't know if it sheds any light on your question. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 31 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps the other space related things - "send an man to the Moon and bring them safely back again", $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Jul 31 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Slarty Easily believable, except that this speech doesn't mention that "other thing." It might be a reference to this unstated "rest of the challenge," if we assume the audience was sufficiently aware of that "and returning him safely to Earth" clause (from the prior year's address to Congress) so that it was just understood, but I think OrganicMarble has the more likely list of "other things." $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Aug 2 at 3:11
  • $\begingroup$ This seems better suited for history. $\endgroup$
    – JimmyJames
    Aug 2 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ it's nothing more than a reference to things mentioned in the earlier sentences. $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Aug 2 at 18:34
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I'm pretty sure it's a weak joke calling back to a previous reference in the speech.

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

"The other things" here refers to climbing the highest mountain, flying the Atlantic, and Rice University playing [American college] football against the University of Texas. Rice and Texas have a long-standing football rivalry (now over a century old); "Rice playing Texas" is a challenge of particular resonance with JFK's audience at this speech. That brings us to the passage you cite:

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.

Assuming the same set of "others" here, this is superficially a puzzling construction. The challenges of climbing the highest mountain and flying the Atlantic had already been won, so it's nonsensical to talk about "intending to win" them. That leaves only Rice playing Texas, so my interpretation is that JFK is jokingly saying "we [the United States] intend to go to the moon, and we [his Rice University audience] intend to beat Texas."

Here's the printed script for the speech:

Picture of the original script of the speech from the JFK library. Several words are underlined for emphasis in ballpoint pen, and "why does Rice play Texas" handwritten as an insert.

"Why does Rice play Texas?" has been handwritten in (possibly by Kennedy himself) -- a late addition to the text -- and the phrase you're asking about isn't present at all, strongly suggesting it was ad-libbed as a callback to the Rice/Texas reference, which might explain why it's so grammatically clunky.

At the time of the speech, Rice and UT were 5-5 over the previous decade despite UT being a significantly larger school. JFK's speech doesn't seem to have brought Rice much luck; Rice and Texas' next game, a little over a month after the speech, was a 14-14 tie, and in the forty-odd games between the two since then, Rice has only won twice.

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    $\begingroup$ Curse of the Kenedino? $\endgroup$ Aug 1 at 1:23
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    $\begingroup$ And "Rice playingTexas" was supposedly added to wake up the audience, JFK needed them to cheer for the moon 😉 $\endgroup$ Aug 1 at 1:34
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    $\begingroup$ Nice answer. I've always wondered about this phrasing, and I just assumed that he couldn't remember what the other thing was and just filled it in with a generic phrase. I should have known better, JFK was a much better speaker than that. $\endgroup$ Aug 1 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ Nice one. I wanted more of that hand-edited draft, and found it at the JFK Library, where it's bundled with several other transcripts and drafts. Your image is found on page 32; an earlier draft (the matching part being at page 14) is interesting for having the deleted line, "Why take on the toughest team?", which seems to parallel the later addition, "Why does Rice play Texas?" $\endgroup$ Aug 2 at 12:02
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    $\begingroup$ Re: "a puzzling construction" I don't think he was saying that we intended to do something about them in the future, but more like we did them for the same reason we're doing this too: because it's hard and we can. Still, equally confusing to include sports in that unless Rice always loses to Texas or something. $\endgroup$
    – coblr
    Aug 2 at 19:44
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"The other things" are the other goals of his administration mentioned earlier in the speech,

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.

(Emphasis mine)

Text of speech: https://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm

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  • $\begingroup$ This answer is correct... "we intend to be first" (first sentence quoted in this answer, introducing the list of goals early in the speech) parallels "we intend to win" (quoted in the OP, near the end of the speech) -- win the race to the moon, and these other goals as well. Parallel language like that isn't accidental in Presidential speeches; the speech writers consider their words carefully. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Aug 2 at 3:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Ralph: But as Russell's answer shows, "the other things"/"the others too" were not original parts from the speechwriters. So while they may have put in the "intend" parallel, it doesn't explain what the "other things" were. And to say they intend to "do" leadership in science and industry, "do" hopes for peace and security, is an ill grammatical fit. $\endgroup$ Aug 2 at 11:54

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