Professor Gary Gillespie
Due: April 19, 2013
Class: Analysis of Famous Speeches
Second long paper on: Bush National Cathedral Address after 9/11
September 11, 2001 started as any normal day would. All went about the crisp morning as usual with getting coffee, reading the newspaper, checking mail -the norms. But what the city of New York did not expect on the calm and bright morning was an attack from terrorists. The first attack commenced with a plane crashing into the north tower of World Trade Center, located in New York. Confused and alarmed, the city thought it had to be a simple accident, however when the second plane hit the south tower only minutes after the first, it was evident that they were under attack.
Not only were these attacks terrifying, it was just the beginning. Shortly after, the headquarters of America’s military operations at the Pentagon was also attacked. One plane, United Airlines Flight 93, in which was hijacked to target and hurt America, was full of brave Americans who fought against the hijacking and took their own plane down to save America from another attack. This is pure heroic and proves Americans have pride in their patriotism.
After these attacks, all airlines were shut and closed down completely. To physically witness as a country such a horrific event of our family murdered on our own land and soil, strikes a fire underneath the nations flame since no one bullies America. With George W. Bush being the President at the time, he took over and made sure us as a nation would have justice for the three thousand lives taken from us on September 11, 2001.
Four days after the attack, on September 14, 2001, President Bush addressed his nation and dignitaries at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. His speech answered questions, raised awareness, and mourned the victims of the attacks on September 11th. It was a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance Service. He spoke slowly, deliberately and powerfully. However it was not hesitantly. This paper will analyze the speech President Bush gave at the National Cathedral by first discussing the biographical background of President Bush, then conversing the organizational structure, and ending with credibility of identification.
George W. Bush is a man of few failures and many triumphs. One success was particularly graduating from Yale University in 1968 and Harvard Business School in 1975. Followed after graduating, he worked for oil businesses where he later realized was not his career path –this was a disappointment, yet lesson learned. Soon after, he co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team. Doing so, he turned the revenue from awful to profitable proving his management skills. In 1994, Bush became governor of Texas for five years, demonstrating his political skills. After five years of being governor, he ran for President and surprisingly won. Bush was the fourth president to be elected while receiving fewer popular votes nationwide than his opponent. However, he obviously became popular because he was elected both terms -in office eight years. Only eight months into his first term of being president was when September 11, 2001 happened –the war on terror which lead to two wars. Bush came into office as president during a time where our nation was split and untrusted. After giving this speech, his approval rating raised drastically, hence why he was elected both terms.
President Bush was undoubtedly a great leader for his country. In this speech at the National Cathedral, he uses Winston Churchill’s five rules for language of leadership effectively. The five rules are to begin strong, have one theme, make language simple, paint a picture orally and end emotionally. Beginning strong is the hook of a speech. His hook was addressing and relating to the audience. By doing so he confirmed there are grief, suffering, loss, sorrow and love to be spread and cherished. Immediately beginning strong in his speech he then addresses why everyone is there, what happened and when it happened –“On Tuesday, our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes and bent steel.” Vivid imagery of bent steel, ashes and fire was an effective way to start this speech.
Having one theme establishes identification and a bottom line residual message. The theme is said a bit after the beginning, “war has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder.” He then discusses how the nation is fierce when stirred to anger and this will only end in a way and at an hour of our choosing. Bush takes control in this speech deliberately to assure the nation that no one died in vain, that we are a country who does not back down against evil and our nation stands up for what we believe in –life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but mostly justice.
Having simple language was used appropriately and efficiently. It was direct, to the point and serious all at the same time. Bush starts with one point, explains and gives a vivid imagery answer. For example, “It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves,” is direct as he then assures them that it is true of a nation as well. He reminds them of their fellow Americans being brave, resourceful and kind by giving the vivid imagery following after, “we see our national character in rescuers working past exhaustion, in long lines of blood donors, in thousands of citizens who have asked to work and serve in any way possible.” Bush extends this thought into giving more examples of stories of two office workers finding a disabled stranger and carrying that stranger down sixty-eight flights of stairs to safety. The stories given are not only used in simplicity with language, it also paints a picture orally.
Painting a picture orally is vital when giving a speech because images are what draws and keeps the attention of the audience. Using rich imagery instills memory because abstractions don’t settle in the mind; abstractions go in one ear and out the other. Bush painted a picture in many instances. One instance he says, “They are the names of men and women who began their day at a desk or in an airport, busy with life. They are the names of people who faced death and in their last moments called home to say, be brave and I love you.” Hearing this automatically paints a picture in one’s mine by imagining people going about their day normally without knowing they would soon be faced with death. It paints a picture knowing they called home to say goodbye, and forces one to visualize and empathize with how that would feel. It is emotional to envision.
Ending emotionally is sentimental, which was needed for a nation who just days before the speech was given, was attacked by terrorists at the nation’s capital. Wrapping up the end, Bush referenced to God and addressed that nothing can separate us from His love. Then, ended strong saying, “May He bless the souls of the departed. May he comfort our own. And may He always guide our country. God Bless America.” Acknowledging the deceased and mourning living, and encouraging the population as a whole, the end of the speech indeed came together emotionally.
Speaking of being emotional, Bush’s use of pathos was effective. Aristotle’s analyses of the three classical proofs are called pathos, logos and ethos. Pathos means the emotion captured in the speech. Being emotional in a speech captures the audience attention by drawing their minds through vivid stories which sustain their interest since stories provide imagery. The story, “a group of men drove through the night from Dallas to Washington to bring skin grafts for burned victims,” captures emotion. Another emotional part was, “one man who could have saved himself stayed until the end at the side of his quadriplegic friend. A beloved priest died giving the last rites to a firefighter.” Being emotional gives the audience a moment to feel and reflect on what has happened.
Discussing what happened, there is bound to be logos, which means the logical arguments. Logistically, Bush was smart. He is not the kind of man to let America down nor is a man to have a conflict with because he believes in justice, and terrorism against our nation does not stand in his beliefs. He says, “just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history, but our responsibility to history is already clear; to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.” This is rational because Bush says we have history, we know our history since we’ve learned from our history and we will not repeat any history as we are going to take care of our history now. Speaking logically as the President of the United States is extremely credible.
Having credibility means having ethos of the speech. Bush was extremely credible and well-known. Being the President of the United States is credible enough and this is how the audience knows or identifies with him. However, what is also credible is his power of being the President as well as referring back from our history of our fathers, by saying, “They have attacked America because we are freedom’s home and defender, and the commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time.” Speaking about our fathers shows a relation to history and history is reliable and relatable to many, therefore Bush is credible.
Victimage is what comes to mind when reflecting on this speech, which means a theme or story about a martyr or enemy that creates common ground. There are two types of victimage called martyr victimage and enemy victimage. Martyr is more about crucifixion or being a victim, like Jesus dying on the cross. This speech describes an enemy victimage, which means war rhetoric and uniting together against a common threat. America was threatened by terrorists and Bush united the nation together with this speech by addressing what happened as well as promising that there will be justice.
Knowing how to speak to your audience is crucial, especially if you are in the higher elected office. President Bush used rhetoric flawlessly by distinguishing identification. Rhetoric is adapting your message to meet the needs of the audience. The audience just experienced a travesty in their nation. At that time, many were emotionally sorrowed, and were in need of security and assurance. Bush referenced God several times throughout the speech to calm the audience or give them a sense of comforted peace. For instance, “We come before God to pray…” and, “we ask almighty God to watch over our nation and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come.” Having Bush reference to God throughout his speech was him adapting his message to meet the needs of the audience. This speech was the right thing said at the right time, thus why President Bush’s approval rating increased rapidly.
Overall, this paper analyzed the speech President Bush gave at the National Cathedral by discussing the biographical background of President Bush, by conversing the organizational structure, and by ending with credibility of identification. War on terror started as an attack on America that started on the timing and terms of terrorists, however it will end in a way and at an hour of America’s choosing. God Bless America.