What does it take for Americans to do great things; to go to the moon, to
win wars, to dig canals linking oceans, to build railroads across a continent?
In independent thought about this question, Neil Armstrong and I concluded
that it takes a coincidence of four conditions, or in Neil's view, the
simultaneous peaking of four of the many cycles of American life. First, a
base of technology must exist from which to do the thing to be done. Second,
a period of national uneasiness about America's place in the scheme of human
activities must exist. Third, some catalytic event must occur that focuses
the national attention upon the direction to proceed. Finally, an articulate
and wise leader must sense these first three conditions and put forth with
words and action the great thing to be accomplished. The motivation of young
Americans to do what needs to be done flows from such a coincidence of
conditions. ... The Thomas Jeffersons, The Teddy Roosevelts, The John
Kennedys appear. We must begin to create the tools of leadership which they,
and their young frontiersmen, will require to lead us onward and upward.
- -- Dr. Harrison H. Schmidt