Rhetorical Analysis of President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech By D. Collins
RHETORICAL ANALYSIS OF JFK INAUGURAL Page 2
On a cold wintry Friday, the 21st day of January in 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave his inaugural speech after Chief Justice Earl Warren had sworn him in as the thirty-fifth President of the United States. Excerpts from this famous speech have been echoed in various sound bites and classrooms since the very day of its delivery. Few students across the globe, much less those who reside here in the United States, would fail to recognize its definitive line, “…ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country.” President Kennedy offered up far more than the stereotypical partisan rhetoric on that day, despite the obvious allusions to current events in Vietnam, Cuba, the Soviet Regime and the discord in socio-political and cultural climates at home and the world at large. His speech was instead, literally, a challenge to all men and women of every nation and every creed to strive for a utopian society.
The young President began his speech by dismissing his affiliated party’s victory as a celebration of freedom and democracy instead. With this first contradiction of the banal, he delved into his inspirational address to the world. He then made a cold, stark allusion to the current state of affairs concerning the Cold War by comparing that Man holds within his hands both the power to abolish all human poverty and humanity’s very existence as well, quickly capturing the attention of his audience to hear his idyllic goals to follow. Kennedy referenced the Cold War, Nuclear Proliferation and the spread of Communism throughout his speech in an effort not to inspire separatism but to form a unification of ideals. Not only did he speak plainly, he spoke with the air of a poet. This is exemplified in the following passage: “Finally, to those...
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