John F. Kennedy’s Free Speech

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John F. Kennedy was a phenomenal speaker. He knew how to use his words to rally support from his audience. Therefore, he was not an inspirational leader and through his words he was able to move his audience. President Kennedy was able to reach out to his audience by addressing their emotions and their beliefs. Throughout his speech, President Kennedy use various literary devices to connect with his audience and to persuade them to see that they did not just make a huge mistake by electing him as their president. He was a man for the people of this great nation.

In the first few paragraphs, President Kennedy ceremoniously used ethos to captive his total audience and to rally them as one by first addressing all those in attendance saying, “Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, Reverend Clergy, fellow citizens:” In addition, he appealed to his audience by referencing the “almighty god”.

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He says, “For I have sworn before you and almighty God the same solemn oath….”, and as history tells us this nation was based built and founded on religious beliefs and freedom. Furthermore, President Kennedy continued to say that “the beliefs that the right of man come not from the generosity of the state but by the hand of God.” He appeals to the audience’s religious ideologies.

President Kennedy used strong sentences and words to inspire his audience and to show that we as a people are mighty as a team and weak as individuals. For this he uses the literacy device parallelism to show the two opposites, strong versus weak. He tells the audience that “united, there is little that 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.

Another use of parallelism was ‘Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.’ “We” can make a difference as long as “we” stand together. He emphasizes the word, “we”. Another example of parallelism in President Kennedy’s speech was when he said, “We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside”.

In his speech he addresses the emotional side (pathos) of his audience to propel patriotism by saying, “So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.” Also he showed the importance of a team by using the word, “us”. President Kennedy wanted to show that he does not stand by himself but with the people. Also, he repeats the word, “us” in saying “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

He was saying that as a people we move forward in our endeavors that we do it without fear, but with perseverance and a sound mind. In addition, he acknowledge that freedom was obtained by not just remembering the old but also the young. For by “The graves of young Americans who answered the call of service surround the globe”, we as a nation enjoy freedom.

Once again, he enticed everyone in his speech and not just giving credit to the old but recognized that if it was not for the young soldiers that fought and sacrificed their lives we would not be free. But also, he wanted the people to know that it was going to take everyone working together to sustain what we have come to love and enjoy, our rights and our freedom to execute our rights.

Moreover, not only did President Kennedy use the literacy devices pathos and ethos, but he eloquently used logos. At the very beginning of his speech after addressing the people in his audience. He said, “The world is very different now”. Truth to be told, it was. The world was wiser in the sense that man had made advancement in science and technology. He said, “For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life”.

The man knew how to create life as well as destroy it. Also, he said. “In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course”. As president he would sign the executive order to go to war, but he would not be on the battle field fighting physically. So, the success or failure of this country actually rests on the shoulders of the citizens of this country. The citizens of this country bear the burdens of war and what it entails—the good and the bad effects of war. If we as the citizens of this great country want freedom to remain and to exist, then it is up to the citizens of this country.

In John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech, he employed so many literacy devices. Besides ethos, logos, and pathos, he used alliteration as well as metaphor. Phrases from his speech such as “same solemn”, “man holds in his mortal hands”, and “pay any price, bear any burden”, and “let us go forth to lead the land we love” are just a few alliterations he used in his speech to help persuade his audience to support him as the president of the United States of America.

The metaphor he stated made reference to areas being poor or improvised. He said, “To assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty”. This metaphor was appealing to their human side. There was work to be done in this world, but it would not get done by himself just saying it or by him alone. It was going to take the people to make the change and in this case to end poverty.

As President Kennedy comes to an end he impels the importance of citizenship and what “we” can and should do for “our” country. Once again, the words, “we” and “our” indicate that he is not talking as one but for many, and it is not about him. Although he is president of the United States, he recognized that this country belonged to the people, and he was only a vessel to ensure that the rights of all are addressed and upheld.

Furthermore, he said with a good conscience our only sure reward, with history….” is “knowing that here on earth God’s work must be truly be our own.” People in this world have a Christian duty, and that is to do the will of God. He once again appeal to their moral stance. In addition, President Kennedy is known for his famous line “ask not what your country can do for you– ask what you can do for your country”. Once again, he places the responsibility of this country growing, succeeding, flourishing, and being free upon the shoulders of the citizens of this country.

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John F. Kennedy’s Free Speech. (2021, Sep 17). Retrieved from

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