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Reagan on the Challenger Tragedy
Transcript of Reagan on the Challenger Tragedy
The President's use of language to create credibility, feeling, and logic
January 28th, 1986
Goal of the
was a shuttle that was going to take 7 people (5 men and 2 women) to space, including the first teacher to space.
President Reagan developed credibility through:
Reagan on the "Challenger " Tragedy
President Reagan developed feeling through:
said the names of the 7 people that died
addressed the families of the victims
"We've never had a tragedy like this."
the victims "served"
victims were "heroes."
continued faith in the space program
addressed NASA employee's mourning
talked directly to the children that watched the shuttle explode with their teacher on it
President Reagan developed logic through:
Shortly after liftoff, the space shuttle exploded.
Two small rubber O-rings failed because of cooler temperatures during take-off (Challenger).
giving a eulogy to the men and women who lost their lives instead of his State of the Union address
refers to his wife as "Nancy" instead of First Lady to show that they are facing the same things as all other Americans
had a grievous tone showing he feels just like everyone else does
"Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But we've never lost an astronaut in flight."
"We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue."
President Reagan addresses the American people about the Challenger explosion.
begins by addressing the American public
("Ladies and Gentlemen...")
speaks to victims' families
("For the families of the seven...")
talks to American schoolchildren
("...to the schoolchildren of America...")
addresses NASA employees
("...to every man and woman that works for NASA..."
To be less harsh and
with Americans, Reagan used phrases like "those lost" instead of "those killed."
"We mourn their
as a nation together."
"On this day
three hundred and ninety years ago
, the great explorer
Sir Francis Drake
died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the
were the oceans, and a historian later said, 'He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.'"
(A phrase surrounded by commas to emphasize)
"We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them
, this morning,
as they prepared for their journey..."
Reminding the audience the accident is still fresh in everyone's minds.
"Nineteen years ago
, almost to the day,
we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground."
Signifies the importance this day will always have in history.
Reagan relates this to the Challenger crew by saying "like Drake's...their dedication was complete."
Emotional connection to audience
Compares this tragedy to the one 19 years ago and the death of Sir Francis Drake.
Used to compare the two days and relate it back to heroes dying for their dedication, passion, and purpose.
Why is the speech still venerated?
He named all seven victims by name and personally recognized them for their service to America.
The audience loved that Reagan addressed the public, victims, victims' families, the schoolchildren, and the NASA employees.
Reagan meant every word he spoke and was emotional when talking about the tragedy.
While watching the speech we were all attentive.
When he named all seven victims by name, we felt personally attached to the situation even though we were not even alive when this happened.
Reagan addresses the school children and our hearts shattered for the little kids that watched their teacher die in the sky above them.
Shift in Tone
Begins with proper way to address the situation, but ends on a positive light of greater things to come without any disrespect to the victims.
Audience experiences same emotions.
"Challenger Disaster." History.com. A E Networks, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2014.
The phrase “touch the face of God”, is an excerpt from the poem “High Flight” written by John Magee. Magee was an author during WWII and climbed to 33,000 feet in his Spitfire (Duarte).
"We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"
Duarte, Nancy. "Remembering the Challenger, and One of History’s Greatest Speeches." Duarte. Duarte, Inc, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 4 Oct. 2014.
Mary E. Stuckey believes Reagan addressed the two most important problems America was facing at the moment (Jones).
1. The deaths of the Challenger Seven
2. Protection of the Space Program
Jones, John. "Slipping the Surly Bonds: Reagan’s Challenger Address (review)." Project Muse. The Johns Hopkins University Press in Collaboration with The Milton S. Eisenhower Library. Web. 4 Oct. 2014.
"Ronald Reagan The Space Shuttle "Challenger" Tragedy Address." American Rhetoric. American Rhetoric. Web. 4 Oct. 2014.