JFK rhetoric - Salopek 1 Brittany Rae Salopek Megan Ward...

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Salopek 1 Brittany Rae Salopek Megan Ward English 111 GE 10/05/06 JFK’s Inaugural Speech “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” (Kennedy pars 26). This famous and inspirational quote was delivered along with many other liberal empowerment quotes in John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s inaugural speech on Friday, January 20 th , of 1961. Kennedy was voted into the presidency in 1961 as the first Roman Catholic President of the United States, beating his opponent’s, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 2 term presidency span in the closest election ever. Kennedy’s inaugural speech was a demanding and touching speech that motivated the hearts of many Americans. It is considered to be one of the most influential speeches of all time placing it in second place of the top 100 oratory speeches to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This piece was filled with an assimilation of rhetoric making it to be such a strong and memorable speech. Many people admire this speech because of the constant overflow of rhetoric appeals embedded into all of its passages. Being voted into presidency demands an instant spike in the ethos listeners feel when listening to John F. Kennedy’s presentation. Ethos considers how the speaker presents his or herself when speaking to a group and the credibility and authority that the people willingly give to him or her. Many times speakers must work to gain a strong grip on the audience’s ethos; but, being a newly voted president, Kennedy has already established a decent amount of ethos. With love and respect for his country and the citizens in it he still presents passages that tie his listeners in to what he is saying. He first addresses the spectators “Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon,
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Salopek 2 President Truman, Reverend Clergy, fellow citizens” (Kennedy pars 1).    Regardless of the fact that President Kennedy has just been elected, he attempts to relate to the American people as if he is no better and no worse than any of them, and on their same level. This relationship makes the listeners feel appreciated, and in return the will value what he is saying. While speaking to the American people Kennedy assumes that he is speaking to an intelligent public that will understand his generalizations while making his speech. This helps the speech to flow more smoothly and make for an impacting piece. Early in the speech Kennedy states, “To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do -- for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder” (Kennedy pars 7). Here Kennedy assumes that the group he is speaking to is well aware of their country’s allies. Without listing these various countries off, the speech runs more diligently and lessens the possibility of boring the group. Because this is Kennedy’s inaugural
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JFK rhetoric - Salopek 1 Brittany Rae Salopek Megan Ward...

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