Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Inaugural speech Essay Example for Free

Inaugural speech Essay In the history of the United States, it has been a tradition that the President, makes an inaugural speech, when he begins his Presidential term. The first such inaugural speech was made by George Washington, on 30 April 1789. (Halsall Paul ). This essay makes an in-depth rhetorical analysis of one of the historic and important inaugural addresses- he one made by President John F. Kennedy, in 1961. He was he thirty-fifth President of The Unites States, and the youngest President to assume this prestigious office. He was the youngest president to die also. He graduated from Harvard University, and spent many years in the US navy. He was a very good writer also, and before assuming the Presidency, he was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer prize in history. ( John Kennedy) His education gave him the vision of a strong America striving for global peace, his naval background gave him the daunting spirit of challenging the enemy and his literal excellence helped in drafting an memorable inaugural speech in the history of the United States. His background is strongly reflected in his inaugural speech. This inaugural speech was delivered when world was at a very important juncture in its history. The dark clouds of the second world war had already vanished, the equations of power had changed, Germany and Japan were lying low, but USSR had risen to the level of a strong super power, always threatening the super power status of the USA. Great Britain, France, and China were as good as neutral not wanting to confront with either of the super powers. Both USA and USSR equated the power balance in such a way that neither can make an advancement. The rest of the world heavily relied on the aid of these to nations, to survive and sustain themselves. Globalization was an unheard word and each nation had its own independent economy. Markets of each nation were closed to foreigners. The cold war between the USA and the USSR for supremacy had just begun, when President John Kennedy made this address. In a narrow context this speech is intended for the Congress of the USA. However, in the broader context, President Kennedy wishes to address the Population of America, southern America in particular, because he takes the pain to make a special mention of them in his speech, and assures them justice and equality. The canvas of his speech is even larger, and crosses the boundaries of the United States. He seems to be addressing the entire population of this world. He cautions the strong nations to exercise restraint and assures help to he weaker ones to develop themselves. The government of the USSR is a special target of this speech. In a polite yet very stern and firm way, he extends an indirect warning to the USSR, to be cautious in their dealings with international affairs. President Kennedy intends to give three clear messages in his speech. One, he stresses on the freedom of every human being. He speaks of freedom not only at national level within the United States, but to all human beings. He clearly communicates his mind in one sentence, â€Å"And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God. † Undoubtedly, Kennedy firmly believes that freedom is a basic right of human being, not given by the state, but by God. In other words, all men are born free and no state has any right to deny this basic right to anyone. He shows his commitment to this freedom to the natives of southern states, which have experienced a past full of cruelty and brutality. The second point he makes is on the subject of peace and aid to the weaker nations. Both at national level and at international level. â€Å" To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support—to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective—to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak—and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run†, (John F. Kennedy ) he remarks on the subject of international peace and says that. â€Å" To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. † ( John F. Kennedy ). On the subject of helping the weaker countries. His third point is a proposal to the ‘adversaries’ of the USA, namely, USSR, to strive for mutual co- operation which can benefit both he nations and the entire humanity. â€Å"Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction. † ( John F. Kennedy ) He remarks. This speech has two important undercurrents. President Kennedy, though very polite, is fully confident. His confidence is evident from one sentence of his speech. â€Å"And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house. † (John F. Kennedy). Second, while proposing mutual co-operation to the adversaries, he also indicates at some amount of suspicion towards their intentions. This is evident from the statement, â€Å"remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof â€Å". ( John F.Kennedy ). The structure of this speech is also very strong and has a natural flow. Beginning with the issue of freedom of Liberty and of all human beings, he switches over to the issue of helping the weaker sections of the American society and the poor nations of this world. He then makes a brief mention of the UN, and pledges American support in its endeavors. Quite surprisingly, a major portion of his speech is devoted to the issue of mutual co-operation between the two super powers. It is a clear indication of the importance Kennedy gave to this subject. But, the big question is, did this subject deserve that much of priority in the prevailing international scenario at that time? This should be a topic for historians to research into. He also reminds the citizens, with an authoritative tone, that they also need to fulfill their duties towards the nation. † From the linguistic point of view, this speech is just a master-piece of careful craftsmanship. It is not a very simple and a direct speech. The exterior gloss of politeness is filled with undercurrents of self-confidence and suspicion towards the attitudes and intentions of others. Figures of speech, namely repetition and metaphor are freely used throughout the speech, act as an ornament. One of his statements in this speech has become very famous, and will be remembered by all. This is, â€Å" And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country. † ( John F. Kennedy ) President Kennedy fully succeeds in communicating the three main messages which he intends to pass over. He succeeds because of his style. A style which has nothing new to say, yet everything is new. The word ‘peace’ has great force to attract masses of humanity, and Kennedy has used this word very effectively in his speech. His commitment to peace and self pride for his nation, were, perhaps the reasons for his immense popularity, not within America but around the world. So powerful is the impact of his speech, that it can be safely concluded that Kennedy delivered this address not as the President of USA but as an international leader, to an international community. References : 1. Halsall Paul, [July 1998], History of inaugural addresses, Retrieved on 29 Sept 07 from: http://www. fordham. edu/halsall/mod/presidents-inaugurals. html 2. John Kennedy, The White House, Retrieved on 29 Sept 07 from: http://www. whitehouse. gov/history/presidents/jk35. html 3. Burton Grideon O. , Basic questions for rhetorical analysis, Brigham Young University, Retrieved on 29 September 2007 from: http://rhetoric. byu. edu/Pedagogy/Rhetorical%20Analysis%20heuristic. htm 4. John F. Kennedy, [ 20 February 1961] Inaugural address, Retrieved on 29 September 07 from: http://www. bartleby. com/124/pres56. html .

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