Top 10 Most Patriotic Speeches in American History
If a person wants to be an effective communicator and great leader for positive change, one must first understand what these ideas mean. In order to achieve, one must study, observe and learn from achievers.
Patriotism can be defined as “Love of and Devotion to One’s Country.” An effective speech is “The Act of Describing Thoughts, Feelings and Perceptions in Words.” Characteristics of a great leader include: High Energy Level, Goal Oriented Behavior, Self-Confidence, Creativity, Clear Vision, Commitment to Excellence, Strong Integrity, Being an Agent of Change and Being a Positive Role Model.
One who delivers a great patriotic speech will have a love a country, a clear vision of what he/she wants to accomplish and the ability to lead and motivate others to follow him/her in order to achieve this vision.
In order to be on this list of great American patriotic speeches, the speech needs to:
Be Memorable and Quotable
Contain a Clear Vision of the Future
Contain Clear Objective Goals
Achieve The Goals Laid Out in the Speech
Be Delivered in a Strong Effective Manner
Create a Lasting Positive Change in America
These Top 10 Patriotic Speeches in American History have lifted hearts in dark times, gave hope in despair, refined the characters of men, inspired brave feats, gave courage to the weary, honored the dead and, most importantly, changed the course of history.
Honorable Mentioned #3: Winston Churchill – Blood, Toil, Sweat and Tears
“Sir, to form an Administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself, but it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations have to be made here at home.”
The only reason Winston Churchill did not make the Top 10 list is because he was not an American. He has a well deserved place here because of his foresight, conviction, clarity of thought and leadership. He was preparing for war against Adolf Hitler and Germany long before people even saw the Axis Powers as a threat. And after his successful leadership through World War 2 in charge of the British Empire, he again strongly voiced concern about Joseph Stalin and the rise of the Soviet Union. Lack of action from the rest of the world brought forth the Cold War.
Honorable Mentioned #2: Theodore Roosevelt – The Right of the People to Rule
“The great fundamental issue now before the Republican party and before our people can be stated briefly. It is: Are the American people fit to govern themselves, to rule themselves, to control themselves? I believe they are.”
Teddy Roosevelt was a great orator. He gave style, class and charisma to his many speeches. I placed him on the honorable mentioned list for this reason. Where he falls short is quotability and a tendency for being verbose (using a lot of words).
Honorable Mentioned #1: John F Kennedy – Inauguration Address
“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
John F Kennedy just became the youngest President in history in a close contest against Vice President Richard Nixon. He desired to communicate and gather support for the agenda he envisioned for the country, an agenda of government involvement which would be decidedly different than that of outgoing President Eisenhower’s.
It is a great speech with a clear vision. It did not make the Top 10 list because its lasting impact was not as great as the others that made the Top 10 list.
#10: Douglas MacArthur – Duty, Honor, Country
“Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed; that the very obsession of your public service must be: Duty, Honor, Country.”
Although this was addressed to Military cadets at West Point, his poignant speech about Duty, Honor, Country lays a road map of thought and behavior, that, when followed in both military and personal life, will bring about victory and success. His speech rhythm is slow, but steady. He truly believes in America and its values. He shows a true love and patriotism for the people of the United States of America.
#9: Franklin Delano Roosevelt – First Inaugural Address
“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.”
FDR was trying to pull the country out of the Great Depression. He needed to lead and inspire. And he did so with this effective speech.
#8: Ronald Reagan – Farewell Address to the Nation
“As long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. And something else we learned: Once you begin a great movement, there’s no telling where it will end. We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world.”
This was a speech that was thought out, thorough, contemplative, delivered well and encouraged Americans to continue the good fight. Many of his thoughts and ideas reverberate through a large group of people to this day.
#7: George Washington – Farewell Address – December 23, 1783
“Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of american, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.”
George Washington, along with a handful of other men, such as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, played an integral part in the formation of the United States of America. In his last act as a statesman, he stepped down after serving 8 years as President of the United States. This created the tradition that a President is a servant of the Nation and should not serve more than 8 years. It was not until the 22nd Amendment in 1951 that this became law. Even then, there is only 1 President who served more than 8 years (Franklin Delano Roosevelt). It was because of his almost 4-term Presidency that the 22nd Amendment was written.
#6: Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate – Ronald Reagan – June 12, 1987
“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev — Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
With strong leadership and conviction, President Ronald Reagan was an integral part in ending the Cold War with the Soviet Union. With military build up, strong economic growth and the goal to end the stalemate with the Soviet Union, Reagan stood strong at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, and stated to the world for Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union, to tear down the wall separating East Berlin from West Berlin. On November 10, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union was on its way to extinction.
#5: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death – Patrick Henry – March 23, 1775
“Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry made a passionate speech full of clarity and conviction to the Virginia governing body just after the Boston Tea Party and before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Also, the future second President of the United States – Thomas Jefferson – was in the audience. As a result, Virginia voted to join the other colonies to fight for independence. And Virginia played a major role in the American Revolution. The American colonies won and the United States of America was born.
#4: The Decision to Go to the Moon – John F. Kennedy – May 25, 1961
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
In the middle of the Cold War against the Soviet Union, JFK makes an ambitious goal to send men to the Moon in less than 9 years. As most great leaders know, a great vision, clear goals and strong leadership can generate amazing results. Although the Soviet Union had some early successes over the United States, it was the USA that eventually sent the first men to the Moon. As a result, JFK greatly sped up research and development in technology. These competitive advances led to many tools that gave the United States significant military advantages and helped to usher in the Information Age.
#3: Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation – Franklin Delano Roosevelt – December 8, 1941
“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
FDR placed clear and undeniable blame on Japan for the attack on Pearl Harbor. He laid out his arguments for war, and at the end of the speech asked Congress to declare war on Japan. He was able to get what he asked for and was able to wage war against the Axis powers. Eventually, with strong leadership from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D Eisenhower, Winston Churchill and others, the Allies eventually won World War 2.
#2: Gettysburg Address – Abraham Lincoln – November 19, 1863
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Abraham Lincoln took on the responsibility to preserve the Union during the American Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the deadliest battles of the war. It also marked the turning point in which the North began its long road to eventual victory over the South. He wanted to make sure that these lives that were sacrificed were not in vain. When the North won the Civil War, slavery became abolished within the entire United States of America.
#1: Dr Martin Luther King Jr – I Have a Dream – August 23, 1963
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
In the middle of the Cold War, violent actions related to the Civil Rights Movement, and general civil unrest, Dr Martin Luther King Jr calmly walks to the podium amongst a crowd of over 100,000 people to announce to the world that African Americans in the United States of America now have equal protection under the law and are truly free from bondage and slavery. He hoped and prayed for peaceful demonstrations and fought against violence. He lost his life as a result of his public actions, but was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice to proclaim his convictions to the world.
The 13 speeches listed above portray many important concepts: patriotism, conviction, effective public speaking, strong leadership and great vision. If you study and truly understand how and why these public figures said what they said and when they said it, you will begin to understand what American patriotism, effective communication and leadership are all about. And these three concepts will lead you to a very successful and fulfilled life.