Thursday, 20 January 2011

JFK's Inaugural Speech

President John F Kennedy delivered his famous inaugurual speech 50 years ago today. It includes the famous line "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" and many other impressive pieces of rhetoric. Kennedy ordered his aide to analyse all the previous inaugural speeches, plus other famous speeches such as Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, to try to understand the key to what made a particular phrase memorable and successful. As this interesting article from the BBC shows, the speech is full of contrasts, as shown in the example above, 3 part lists, and alliteration, such as "Let us go forth to lead the land we love". The research paid off, and JFK, despite his comparative youth, was able to establish himself and set his agenda both with his domestic audience and the rest of the world. You can see video of the speech, and annotations of its highlights, here.

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