J.F Kennedy’s speech-how he establishes pathos by appealing to the Americans to be patriotic

In the 1960 presidential election, J F. Kennedy won the hotly contested election against his Republican counterpart and former vice president Richard Nixon. His win came during the cold war. The inaugural address by John F Kennedy indicated an establishment of ethos. This aspect is depicted in his opening words, “Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, Reverend Clergy, fellow citizens: We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end as well as a beginning–signifying renewal as well as change” (1). This was inspired by the inaugural speech address of Thomas Jefferson, which was after a similarly hotly contested election between Kennedy and Nixon. Therefore, Kennedy, in his opening speech, does not want the victory to be viewed as for Democratic Party alone but trying to make it a win for all Americans regardless of their party. Kennedy was trying to establish himself as a leader who valued unity and was against partisans. He also proves himself courageous by emphasizing that “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.” (3). He wants the people to have faith in him as he steers the country through the challenges it was facing. He concludes his speech by putting up ethos as a leader who is not selfish and seeks his ability from God, “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

In his speech, Kennedy further establishes pathos by appealing to the Americans to be patriotic for success during the problematic cold war period. He reminds the people about their forefathers who went through “the first revolution” (2) and the new generation “born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage.” (2). He promotes the patriotic spirit and calls Americans to action. Kennedy needs the Americans to be part of his leadership in establishing a safer world: “The graces of young Americans who answered the call of service surround the globe.” He appeals to the people’s emotions, especially those whose loved ones perished in the war and inspired them to take action. It is difficult, but Kennedy assures the people that he has faith in the new generation by proclaiming that: “The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it – and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.”

Throughout the speech address, Kennedy also establishes logos through various analogies, facts, classification, and maxims. In classification, he views the world as “old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share,” “new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free,” “people in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery,” “that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations,” and “nations who would make themselves our adversary” (2). He provides the people with the way forward for each of them. He uses an analogy to inform the people about the danger of spreading communism spearheaded by Russia to developing countries such as Cuba. Kennedy says that “those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside” (2). He emphasizes that communism will not help those who join its principles. Kennedy uses facts to argue about the Cold War in his speech by citing the space race, arms race, among others, to propose possible unity with Russia. This is evident in: “Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us. Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms – and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.” (3). Lastly, he utilizes maxims by quoting the bible, which connects well with the Christian audience.

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