Oklahoma Bombing Speech Analysis

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Caroline Woodrome
COM 135 MC
Professor Jarvis
April 24, 2012
Oklahoma City Bombing Prayer Service Address
At 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, a 5,000-pound bomb, hidden inside a Ryder truck, exploded just outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The explosion caused massive damage to the building and killed 168 people, 19 of whom were children (Rosenburg, 2011). On April 23, four days after the bombing, President Bill Clinton addressed the public and gave an effective, excellent speech. The overall goal of the message was to appropriately respond to the Oklahoma City bombing, support the ones who lost loved ones, and address what America as a nation should do to keep this from happening again. This goal was achieved through these statements made by President Clinton: “Our words seem small beside the loss you have endured. But I found a few I wanted to share today..You have lost too much, but you have not lost everything. And you have certainly not lost America, for we will stand with you for as many tomorrows as it takes.. Let us let our own children know that we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it. In the face of death, let us honor life.”

President Clinton is asking the audience to stand up to forces of fear, teach children to stand up to fear, learn from the Oklahoma City Bombing, and keep moving forward. He encourages us to support each other and live through and for those who were lost. Clinton does convey this throughout the speech and specifically through a young widow’s response to the Oklahoma Bombing, who lost her husband when Pan Am 103 was shot down: “..The loss you feel must not paralyze your own lives. Instead, you must try to pay tribute to your loved ones by continuing to do all the things they left undone, thus ensuring they did not die in vain” (Clinton, 2008).

The setup of the speech made it effective. The introduction consisted of President Clinton establishing credibility through his respect, showing sympathy towards the situation, relating to the audience, and going into the body by stating he’d like to say a few words. Through the body of the speech, President Clinton reinforces his main points of America needing to learn from this event, move forward together as a nation, standing up for good, and instilling morals in children. Clinton ends the speech by saying good will be a result, those who were lost are in a better place, and we must live through them. Clinton ends the speech by thanking the audience for their time.

After a tragic event, the President is expected to respond to it. The president is expected to tell Americans where to go, what to do, and what he or she would like to do or how he or she views the event that took place. Therefore, President Clinton is expected to do just this. He states these things throughout this message and gets on the level of other Americans. Clinton says in the introduction that he, and his wife Hilary, come not only representing the American people but as common folk; as a fellow American; as husband, wife, parents, and neighbors.

Clinton therefore, with coming onto the average American’s level, gives a feeling of relate ability and compassion. Clinton is very believable in the speech through his conversational-type vocal rate and how he worded what he said. Clinton does this through quotes, like the quote from the widow who lost her husband when Pan Am 103 was shot down. Clinton uses scripture for credibility, with his statement of good overcoming evil being from Romans 12:21: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Clinton, 2008). Clinton also quotes St. Paul and a little girl, who had an idea of planting a tree in remembrance of the children lost in the bombing.

President Clinton uses quotations and stories to achieve his speaking goals. This allows him to establish...
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