This article analyzes President Bill Clinton’s inspirational speech given during the Oklahoma bombing memorial prayer service. The president begins his speech by thanking the governor of Oklahoma and acknowledging the families of the bereaved as well as the people of Oklahoma. This signifies respect for the state of Oklahoma as both the leadership and the people have been acknowledged.
He further relates to the situation that the bereaved families are going through when he says “but I have to tell you that Hillary and I also come as parents, as husband and wife, as people who were your neighbors for some of the best years of our lives” (American Rhetoric 2013). In saying this President Clinton is empathetic as he honors husbands, wives, siblings, children, friends and fellow citizens who lost their lives in the Oklahoma bombing.
Analyzing the rhetorical devices in the speech, the president says “today our nation joins with you in grief” (American Rhetoric 2013). This represents unity as the country mourns. The president is very convincing to the people of Oklahoma and all Americans and he even acknowledges those who sacrificed to assist in the rescue efforts (Maraniss 2006).
Furthermore, he also recognizes that the people who died meant a lot to the residents of Oklahoma when he says, “you saw them at church or the PTA meetings, at the civic clubs, at the ball park. You know them in ways the rest of America could not” (American Rhetoric 2013). This signifies that the president understands the pain the residents of Oklahoma are going through.
The president is very appealing in delivering his speech when he reads a letter from a widow who lost her husband when the Pan Am 103 was shot down. An extract of the letter he reads states, “Instead, you must try to pay tribute to your loved ones by continuing to do all the things they left undone, thus ensuring they did not die in vain” (American Rhetoric 2013). He uses this letter to appeal to the American people not to be consumed by hate to the extent of committing terrorism.
The president exhibits ethics in delivering his speech when he reaffirms that the American people are not mean or selfish. This shows that he cares for all citizens of the world even if his responsibility is to cater for the American people thus the president is presented as a kind and selfless individual (Maraniss 2006).
Considering the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of the President’s speech, it is very effective. He refers to a little girl who said “we should all plant a tree in memory of the children” (American Rhetoric 2013), and he further reiterates that he planted a tree before coming to the prayer service. This is very effective as the president assists in the healing process by bringing out a positive thing out of the tough circumstances.
However, the President is very diplomatic in his speech. He did not warn the perpetrators of the Oklahoma bombing and their accomplices of the actions he will take. It is appropriate if he is categorically clear that acts of terrorism cannot be tolerated. The President’s speech is very successful as he put himself in the shoes of the bereaved families and encouraged them. He assures the bereaved families and all the residents of Oklahoma of getting support from his administration.
American Rhetoric 2013. Web.
Maraniss, David. First In His Class: A Biography Of Bill Clinton. New York, NY: Touchstone, 2006. Print.