Public Service: John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address

1219 WordsJul 17, 20185 Pages
President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address is considered one of the greatest speeches in history and one of the shortest Inaugural Addresses at just 15 minutes. He attempts to build up America’s pride and calls the nation to support their country. He describes these goals using a variety of rhetorical devices to increase public reaction. His short but powerful speech gives comfort to an American public fearful of war. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born May 29, 1917, into a new wealthy Catholic family (Mehltretter). He lived a privileged lifestyle and was known for being a playboy, not really caring about his studies. However, a trip to Pre-World War II Europe significantly impacted his life which later motivated him to join the Naval…show more content…
He also makes historical references to American’s founders, for example, “…the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.” Kennedy also referenced the natural rights theory, “the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God,” thus linking his generation with the Founders (Bill of Rights Institute). Kennedy connects with his Christian audience using a well-known bible phrase (Isaiah 58:6), “Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah—to ‘undo the burdens… (and) let the oppressed go free.’” Kennedy establishes pathos by appealing to Americans’ Patriotism, an important concept during the Cold War. He refers to American’s “forebears” and reminds Americans “that we are the heirs of that first revolution”. Perhaps his most important emotional appeal is the famous, “And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country”. He makes his “fellow Americans” feel like they have an important part in their country, encouraging strong Patriotism and public service. Kennedy begins and ends his speech mentioning God. With this Kennedy appeals to not only American Catholics but to all Christians. He stated, “…For I have sworn

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