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On this date in 1907, Teddy Roosevelt sent forth four naval battle groups on a mission to project US naval power around the world. This was the largest naval group from a single nation to circumnavigate the world in history. This mission became ensconced as The Great White Fleet.
It was at this point that the United States established it’s position as the major World power. That position did not begin to fade until 1963 with the assassination of JFK (IMHO). He committed this nation to a scientific and engineering effort that surpassed the Manhattan Project with these words:
“I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:
First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the Moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.”
For the complete speech, look here. This single commitment created many of those gadgets that populate our lives today.
What was and is unfortunate is that the baton was dropped just before the finish line.