President Ronald Reagan delivered one of his most powerful speeches on the tragedy of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. In his speech, Reagan was able to unite the country during a time of extreme heartache and tragedy. Through his exceptional use of language, President Reagan delivered a speech that will forever be remembered for its consoling power.
President Reagan gave this memorable speech on the Challenger on the day of the crash, January 28th, 1986. He had been scheduled to deliver the state of the union address, but due to the unfortunate circumstances, he instead addressed the nation about the failed launch. He first expressed the sorrow he felt over the loss of the seven astronauts before briefly comparing the Challenger to Apollo 1, a failed launch that exploded killing three people about nineteen years ago almost to the day. He goes on to list each of the seven crew member’s names and share his condolences for their families and friends. He then addressed the children that were watching the launch in classrooms across the nation and encouraged America that together, we will move on from this tragedy and that we will continue to explore. Finally, he ends by reminding the audience that that day was the 390th anniversary of the death of explorer Sir Francis Drake and that he too died on his ship.
There are incredible figures of speech throughout President Reagan’s entire dialogue, even though it was only a few minutes in length. He was able to create a strong sense of patriotism by using “we” often and phrases such as “This truly is a national loss” (Reagan, 1986). By speaking to the nation in this manor he was able to instill a message of unity from the very beginning and a sense of “we will all get through this together”. By saying, “And perhaps we’ve forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly” (Reagan,
References: Porter, B. F. (2002). Fundamentals of critical thinking. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc. Reagan, Ronald W. (Jan. 28, 1986). Explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger Address to the Nation. Speech given instead of the State of the Union. Washington, D.C.