GreatAmericanSpeeches

Three days after the September 11th terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush delivers a speech at Ground Zero in Manhattan to rally all the recovery workers and the nation.

"I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

The events of September 11, 2001 unquestionably changed the world for the worse. 19 Muslim terrorists hijacked 4 passenger jet planes and turned them into weapons of war against innocent American civilians. The north and south towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, NY were struck directly and would collapse shortly after being hit. World Trade Center tower 7 also collapsed. The Pentagon was struck and United Flight 93 was brought down in an empty field in Pennsylvania. The nation was wounded like never before and not since the murder of President John F. Kennedy has there been a day in America that traumatized hundreds of millions of people. 2,977 people died on 9/11 and the death toll continues to rise as people die from diseases related to the attacks.

Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7, was the first United States manned spaceflight, on May 5, 1961, piloted by astronaut Alan Shepard. Shephard became the second human and first American to reach space. Freedom 7 was the first crewed flight of Project Mercury, the objective of which was to put an astronaut into orbit around the Earth and return him safely. Shepard's mission was a 15-minute sub-orbital flight with the primary objective of demonstrating his ability to withstand the high g-forces of launch and atmospheric re-entry.

Shepard named his space capsule Freedom 7, setting a precedent for the remaining six Mercury astronauts naming their spacecraft. The number 7 was included in all the crewed Mercury spacecraft names to honor NASA's first group of seven astronauts.

On June 18, 1928, Earhart became the first woman to successfully fly across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1935, she delivered a radio broadcast in which she discussed the role of women in science. The world was changing quickly in 1935 as industry continued to grow rapidly and scientific discoveries continued to lead to a higher quality of life. Earheart astutely points to the fact that it was women who were benefiting the most from the new developments and ways of life and that they would have a larger role to play in the years to come.

"This modern world of science and invention is of particular interest to women, for the lives of women have been more affected by its new horizons than those of any other group."

1968 was a turbulent year in America. The United States was heavy with civil unrest. Both Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated and President Johnson escalated the war in Vietnam. But nearly all Americans were in support of NASA's bold mission to land men on the moon and return them home safely. On December 21, 1968, Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, blasted off from present-day Cape Canaveral in Florida carrying 3 astronauts, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders. The plan called for the three astronauts onboard to come within about 70 miles of the moon, circle it several times and return safely home, all while broadcasting their feats to the world below. Apollo 8 would go on to present 6 live broadcasts from space. The 4th broadcast was delivered while Apollo 8 orbited the moon. The three astronauts took turns reading from the Book of Genesis as they looked in awe at all of God's majesty and felt the blessing of how special a world Earth is.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16 and four days later would arrive at its lunar destination. It had a crew of 3 brave pioneers, Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin.

Apollo 11 effectively won the Space Race for the United Staes and fulfilled a national goal set forth in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy to land an American on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade. Neil Armstrong's first steps on the lunar surface were broadcast on live television to a worldwide audience. He described the monumentally historic event as "one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."

Often called the "longest distance phone call ever made", President Nixon's phone call from the Oval Office to the astronauts of Apollo 11 on the surface of the Moon is not a speech in the traditional sense but it is definitely one of the mosts historic phone calls ever made. Just minutes after the first moon landing on July 20th, 1969, the President of the United States placed a phone call to space pioneers Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.

Nixon: "Hello, Neil and Buzz. I'm talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made. I just can't tell you how proud we all are of what you've done. For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure they too join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth."

Armstrong: "Thank you Mr. President. It's a great honor and privilege for us to be here, representing not only the United States, but men of peace of all nations, and with interest and curiosity, and men with a vision for the future. It's an honor for us to be able to participate here today."

On August 4th, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson addressed the American people about an August 2nd North Vietnamese attack on U.S. forces in the Gulf of Tonkin and that the United States was already retaliating. President Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin incident to significantly increase U.S. military presence in Vietnam. It was also reported that Vietnam torpedo boats also attacked the United States on August 4th. The original report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but the memoirs of Johnson's Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, "the Pentagon Papers", published in 2005 proved material misrepresentation by the US government to justify a war against Vietnam.

"My fellow Americans: - As President and Commander in Chief, it is my duty to the American people to report that renewed hostile actions against United States ships on the high seas in the Gulf of Tonkin have today required me to order the military forces of the United States to take action in reply."

President Kennedy delivers remarks about the founding of the United States of America at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA on July 4th, 1962.

On November 3rd, 1969 President Richard Nixon responded to the growing criticism of the war in Vietnam in a television address to the American people with the goal of better informing them of U.S. policy and the efforts his administration had made to end the war. President Nixon explained that he had inherited the war from President Lyndon Johnson's administration as well as explaining some of the problems that would be associated with a full and immediate troop withdrawal. He believed that the large-scale protests were representative of a minority of public opinion and that there was larger support for the war throughout the nation. Nixon referred to these people as, “the great silent majority". In the speech, President Nixon outlined his efforts to make peace and outlined his plans to achieve his campaign goal of “peace with honor” in Vietnam by gradually shifting the burden of the fighting to the South Vietnamese.

"And so tonight-to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans-I ask for your support. I pledged in my campaign for the Presidency to end the war in a way that we could win the peace. I have initiated a plan of action which will enable me to keep that pledge.

The more support I can have from the American people, the sooner that pledge can be redeemed; for the more divided we are at home, the less likely, the enemy is to negotiate at Paris. Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that."

Exactly one year before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered a speech about the Vietnam War known as "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence" or the Riverside Church speech. Dr. King recognized that the Vietnam War was a politically driven humanitarian crisis and that the United States should focus on improving people's lives stateside. This speech would cost Martin Luther King many political allies who were responsible for the war like President Lyndon Johnson.

"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak of the -- for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours."

President Reagan speaks about President Kennedy and his legacy at a fundraiser for the John F. Kennedy Library on June 24th, 1985.

"Everything we saw him do seemed to betray a huge enjoyment of life; he seemed to grasp from the beginning that life is one fast moving train, and you have to jump aboard and hold on to your hat and relish the sweep of the wind as it rushes by. You have to enjoy the journey, it's unfaithful not to. I think that's how his country remembers him, in his joy. And it was a joy he knew how to communicate. He knew that life is rich with possibilities, and he believed in opportunity, growth and action.

And when he died, when that comet disappeared over the continent, a whole nation grieved and would not forget. A tailor in New York put up a sign on the door - 'Closed because of a death in the family.' That sadness was not confined to us. 'They cried the rain down that night,' said a journalist in Europe. They put his picture up in huts in Brazil and tents in the Congo, in offices in Dublin and Warsaw. That was some of what he did for his country, for when they honored him they were honoring someone essentially, quintessentially, completely American. When they honored John Kennedy, they honored the nation whose virtues, genius - and contradictions -he so fully reflected."

President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address on January 20th, 1961.

"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 for what together we can do for the freedom of man."

On November 21, 2008 at the re-opening of the National Museum of American History, General Colin Powell read what is arguably the most famous speech in American History: the Gettysburg Address.

On November 19th, 1863, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated the Confederacy at Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his most famous speech at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In the 271 words of the Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln described the mission the Founding Fathers set out to achieve when they formed the United States as one of unity, liberty and equality for all mankind and he that the Civil War was the test to whether or not that mission would be achieved. He knew that the cost to preserve the Union and end the institution of slavery in the United States was the blood of hundreds of thousands of Americans but he extolled the sacrifices of those who died at Gettysburg in defense of freedom for all men and that those who live shall never forget the cost.

"The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. 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 gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

On April 4, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy visited Indianapolis on a presidential campaign stop. Before giving his speech, he learned of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination that same day. He chose to deliver the tragic news to the audience and encouraged all to follow Dr. King's example of peace and unity.

"For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: 'In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.'"

The final speech Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered was on April 3rd, 1968 at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis, Tennessee. The speech primarily concerns the Memphis Sanitation Strike and King calls for unity, economic actions, boycotts, and nonviolent protest, while challenging the United States to live up to its ideals. He talks about courage and his desire to do God's will and how God has allowed him to see the promised land and the bright future for all Americans to live in equality. Dr. King would be fatally shot at 6:01 p.m. the following evening.

"Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!"

Shortly after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, President Kennedy spoke about Secret Societies at the President and the Press at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC on April 27, 1961.

“The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings”

President Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech was delivered in West Berlin on June 26th, 1963 nearly two years after the Soviet Union erected the Berlin Wall to prevent mass emigration to the West from East Germany. It is one of the most famous anti-communist speeches ever given and signaled to the world that the United States was giving its full support to West Germany. President Kennedy's famous words of support, "Ich bin ein Berliner" gave hope and strength millions of people in East & West Germany.

"Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was 'civis Romanus sum.' Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner.'
There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass' sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin."

On June 12th, 1987, President Ronald Reagan in front of the Brandenburg Gate just a few yards away from the Berlin Wall and addressed a crowd of 20,000 West Germans. Less than two years later, on November 9th, 1989, the brutal history of the Berlin Wall would end after 29 years as the wall begun to come down.

"General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

After the tragic loss of the space shuttle Challenger on January 28th, 1986, President Reagan addressed the nation from the Oval Office. He spoke of the courage of the astronauts that we lost and his words helped to give strength to millions of broken hearts.

"For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, "Give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy." They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us."

President John F. Kennedy delivers a speech at Rice University detailing America's mission to go to the moon.

President Kennedy lays out his plans for peace and how to best avoid armed conflict.

President Kennedy addresses the American Society of Newspaper Editors regarding the Bay of Pigs failure and the growing Cuban crisis. April 20th, 1961.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower's first inaugural address delivered on January 20th, 1953.

President Dwight David Eisenhower's second inaugural address, January 20th, 1957.

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This channel is a collection of the greatest speeches & moments in American history.