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Steve_A's avatar

What speeches in History or current were most inspiring to you?

Asked by Steve_A (5120points) February 26th, 2010

Curious to see what people say. The speech can be from anytime but I thought most people will likely pull speeches from past times.

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33 Answers

davidbetterman's avatar

I have a dream, Martin Luther King Jr.

Of course when Kennedy spoke, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country,” You now see how wrong that was.
We should always be asking what our country can do for us.

CMaz's avatar

“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
Inaugural Address
Friday, January 20, 1961

tinyfaery's avatar

I’m not really inspired by speeches. They are mostly just hot air.

Zaxwar91's avatar

FDR’s speech after the attack on Pearl Harbor. So inspiring im joining the Navy.

Buttonstc's avatar

The one that sticks out in my mind is the short but beautiful words which Robert Kennedy spoke in Indiannopolis after announcing to the crowd the assassination of Martin Luther King.

He had been scheduled to speak, but after this news, his aides and such tried to dissuade him, fearing for his safety.

But he just spoke from the heart pleading for peace rather than riots or violence. He mentioned that his brother had also been killed by a white man and then included a quote, from memory, his favorite poet Aeschylus:
“Even in our sleep, pain which
cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us through the awful grace of God.”

The rest of it is also beautiful. And this was not prepared by speechwriters. It was just him speaking from the heart.

There were riots in many other cities following King’s death, but not there.

It’s been awhile since we’ve known what it’s like to not have just politicians, but leaders as well. If his advisors would have had their way, those words would never have been spoken by him. That’s the kind of thing a leader does. He doesn’t go by polls and such.

JLeslie's avatar

I have a Dream was an amazing speech, definitely inspiring.

Lee Iococa spoke at my college graduation, and it was a great speech. He spoke of America being a melting pot of people from all over the world, and how that made our country great. I have tried to look up the speech, to see if I could find it in print, but to no avail.

J0E's avatar

Herb Brooks’ speech to his team before the game against the Soviets. Where he said “Great moments are born from great opportunity”.

janbb's avatar

I thought Obama’s speech on race during the campaign in which he addressed the Jeremiah Wright accusations was one of the most intelligent and inspiring speeches I had heard in many years.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, as well as the speech he gave at his second Inauguration, when he spoke of “the better angels of our nature”. One could almost forget—both times—that he was “just another politician”.

Churchill said this on October 29, 1941, when he visited Harrow School. It was after the Blitz and things were looking up a bit for Britain. Here is the relevant part of the speech:

“But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period—I am addressing myself to the School—surely from this period of ten months, this is the lesson: Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

galileogirl's avatar

MLK’s last speech was a summation of his life and the struggle, the last paragraph profetic. From the Mountaintop

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. 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 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.

I feel I have witnessed changes over the last 40+ years but I know we have a ways to go. I am happy that the day will come, even if I won’t share in it.

Berserker's avatar

I denno, most of them just creep me out.

Jack79's avatar

That JFK quote from above was taken from Churchill (WWII) iirc

The MLKing speech is really inspiring, especially if you consider when it was made.

JFK’s promise to send a man on the Moon by the end of the ‘60s was very significant for mankind, even if it wasn’t that powerful.

And I was amazed to read a speech by Alexander after a victory against the Persians, where he asks his soldiers to be citizens of the world, and respect all cultures and religions as their own. I think he also mentions something about “one god”.

TexasDude's avatar

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

From Theodore Roosevelt’s Citizen in a Republic speech. Granted, I don’t think there are any recordings of it, the speech inspires me nonetheless.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

In addition to the excellent examples already listed, the speech given by Michael Douglas as “President” Andrew Shepherd in the movie The American President.

If I were American, that speech would fire up a true love of country that demands participation in the process, not just jeering from the sidelines.

majorrich's avatar

I was and still am inspired by Ronald Reagan’s 40th anniversary of D-Day speech given at Normandy. 6th of June 1984. He was, without a doubt the best speaker I have ever seen.


Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

There are two that come to mind – I love them both
A young girl silences the U.N.
A U.S. Veteran supports queer people.

Both incredible.

plethora's avatar

Gen Douglas MacArthur’s final address to the Corp at West Point when he was in his 80s….without notes.

Mat74UK's avatar

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender

Mat74UK's avatar

This society has gotten so damn corrupted by its own self pity that it has unofficially repealed the freedom of speech. Saying the wrong thing can get you sued.- Kradon666

galileogirl's avatar

As much as I have been inspired by MLK (above) Sojourner Truth speaks to me about the reality a woman:

At a Women’s rights convention 160 years ago the predominent speakers were “progressive” men who argued about allowing women to vote while protecting them.from the world

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

janbb's avatar

@galileogirl I love the part of that speech later on about “Ain’t I a woman….”

Christian95's avatar

J.K Rowling’s speech about failure at Harvard
and Steve Jobs “live before you die” speech at Stanford
I Have a dream is my favorite old speech

Buttonstc's avatar

How could I have forgotten Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture ?

ABC did an hour special on him several years ago but there hasn’t been much since his death.

But this wonderful lesson on achieving your childhood dreams is worth taking the time to seek out and listen to the whole thing.

His joy and love of life even while dealing with pancreatic cancer is truly inspirational and a joy to listen to.

Free downloads and more info are at the site as well as his page at Carnegie Mellon Univ.

It’s also available free at iTunes Univ as a podcast.

JLeslie's avatar

The last lecture is fantastic. Good call @Buttonstc

Buttonstc's avatar

My favorite part is where he pleads with all parents to allow their kids to draw on the walls and forget about ruining the resale value of the house.

And he really lived what he believed. When he was taking his niece and nephew out for a rode in his brand new convertible, to bring home the point that things are just things, he purposely poured a can of coke all over so they wouldn’t be on pins and needles afraid of ruining their uncle’s new car. Not everybodys method, but it worked for him !

A really unique individual.

J0E's avatar

The Last Lecture is amazing, great answer.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Buttonstc I read that in a book version I think or in an article version -can’t remember.

janbb's avatar

It was published as a book but it’s great to see the video of it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@janbb yes, I’m not crazy! woo hoo…thanks, librarian master.

Buttonstc's avatar

Yes, it’s also available in book form now. It proved so popular that he was contacted by a publisher.

But, I don’t think the book contains anything that the original talk didn’t. I haven’t seen the book so I don’t know that for sure. But I think it’s pretty interesting that they published it in spite of the fact that there are such good videos of the entire speech available freely on the web (thanks to the excellent facilities of Carnegie Mellon Univ.)

janbb's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You’re welcome: It was a mere nothing (blushes)

Steve_A's avatar

Many thanks to everyone for answering ,great speeches!

Val123's avatar

The famous “Wait till your father gets home” speech…..

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