World War I and National Identity

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A well crafted oration aims to encapsulate its audience and impart values relevant to its context and purpose. The notions of unity and national identity are enduring ideas portrayed in the inspiring speeches of Paul Keating’s “Funeral Service of the Unknown Soldier” in 1993 and Anwar Sadat’s “Statement to the Knesset” in 1977. Some sentiments and issues may stay relevant through the context of time. The quality of the techniques the composer uses help to determine the lasting effect the speech has. Keating explores the idea of National Identity and the importance of Australia becoming one nation separated from the British Monarchy. Sadat has a ‘vision of change’ and this notion is explored in his speech, which aims to unite two different cultures although they are very similar in historical context.

The overt purpose of the speech is for Keating to perform a public, state funeral service in honour of the Unknown Soldier. Keating uses the main purpose of the speech to fulfil the formal state occasion, although in turn identifies a number of points bias to his opinion, which outlines Australia’s qualities that distinguish it from those of the monarchy, without him saying much. He insinuates this idea by repeatedly using rhetorical techniques.

Keating begins his speech with the use of inclusive language to draw the audience close, and with the anaphoric repetition “we do not know” to create a sense of inclusivity. The first person plural highlights the idea of this person being an enigma therefore characterising him as an everyday Australian. Keating repeats this anaphoric phrase several times but cleverly, he is affirming the idea through the negation of it. Keating’s repeated reference to “our nation” also adds to the intensity and unity of the community in this context.

Keating uses historical allusions to outline the background of the Unknown Soldier. He refers to the story of the ANZAC’s and the reasons why Australians enlisted in the ‘great war’,...
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