Public Papers - 1989
Remarks at a White House Barbecue on the 20th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing
America's astronauts and spouses, friends in the United States Congress, NASA officials, and other honored guests: I say welcome -- but for most of you, welcome back to the White House. Barbara and I are delighted that you've joined us for this important anniversary. Planning the picnic was a little hectic. We didn't know whether you preferred hamburgers grilled or served out of a tube. But, nevertheless -- [laughter] -- and also, thanks for coming to the commemoration there, earlier on at the Air and Space Museum. I liked what I heard from our famous lunar astronauts. It's a pleasure, indeed, to welcome the present administrators at NASA and those who served so admirably in the past, running that fantastic organization.
All of you here, in one way or another, have had important roles in supporting the space program. And that support comes from many corners. Many of you have seen those wonderful Ad Council spots that highlight how space technology benefits all humanity. And I'd like to take a moment to recognize someone here who has contributed her time and talent to this campaign. We call her America's leading lady, and that is Helen Hayes, who is there somewhere -- right here. Helen, would you -- we are so grateful to her. And she's found the only cool place on the lawn, too. [Laughter]
As you might expect from a former Navy pilot who lived much of his adult life in Houston, I, too, am a longtime supporter of the space program and the fine work of the men and women gathered here. In our administration's first budget proposal, the largest single percentage increase is for the space agency. And thanks to you and your colleagues at NASA, 20 years after Apollo 11, we still live in a world that is alive with wonder. Two weeks ago, Voyager 2 discovered a new moon around Neptune. And we're still getting acquainted with neighborhoods that we didn't even know about.
On the way back from the Moon, Buzz Aldrin spoke of the never-ending wonder of space. ``This has been far more than three men on a voyage to the Moon,'' he said. ``This stands as a symbol of the insatiable curiosity of all mankind to explore the unknown.'' And I might add, that voyage, like the efforts that came before and the efforts that have come since, is also a symbol of all the men and women of unique talent and character who made it possible, a tribute to the commitment, ingenuity, and nerve of tens of thousands of people working all across the Nation. No one knows better than you, those assembled here today, that Apollo's missions to the Moon raised more questions than they answered.
My commitment today to forge ahead with a sustained, manned exploration program, mission by mission -- the space station, the Moon, Mars and beyond -- is a continuing commitment to ask new questions, to seek new answers, both in the heavens and on Earth.
I am delighted that my able Vice President, our able Vice President, is heading the Space Council. He's a young man, knows how to dream still, knows how to plan. And that Space Council is in very able hands.
James Michener was right when he told Congress: ``There are moments in history when challenges occur of such a compelling nature that to miss them is to miss the whole meaning of an epoch. Space is such a challenge,'' he said. Well, today's announcement is our recognition that the challenge was not merely one that belonged in the sixties; it's one that will occupy Americans for generations to come. And the American people have led the way on this. The American people, I'm convinced, want us back in space -- and this time, back in space to stay.
Somewhere out there, maybe on the Mall today, maybe listening on a radio somewhere, the Americans who will first walk on Mars are now only children, perhaps your children. And along with our congratulations to all of you, we leave you today with the hope of that day when another President stands with those pioneers and echoes the last words spoken to the departing Apollo 11: ``Good luck, and Godspeed.'' And so, once again, thank you for the contributions to the greatness of the United States of America. I'm just delighted you came our way. Thank you very, very much.
Note: The President spoke at 1:01 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House.