Rhetorical Analysis of President Reagan's Challenger Address

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On a cold winter’s morning on the 28th day of January in the year 1986, America was profoundly shaken and sent to its knees as the space shuttle Challenger gruesomely exploded just seconds after launching. The seven members of its crew, including one civilian teacher, were all lost. This was a game changer, we had never lost a single astronaut in flight. The United States by this time had unfortunately grown accustomed to successful space missions, and this reality check was all too sudden, too brutal for a complacent and oblivious nation (“Space”). The outbreak of sympathy that poured from its citizens had not been seen since President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The disturbing scenes were shown repeatedly on news networks which undeniably made it troublesome to keep it from haunting the nation’s cognizance (“Space”). The current president had more than situation to address, he had the problematic undertaking of gracefully picking America back up by its boot straps. President Reagan, at the time in the beginnings of his second term, had successfully maintained overall a high approval rating with the American people. He had won their trust and respect by being quite relatable to the average citizen (Cannon). He had planned that evening to give his State of the Union address, but instead postponed it. The tragedy that had unfolded just hours earlier demanded his complete attention (Eidenmuller 29). Out of this massive loss a rhetorical situation (a situation where individuals’ understanding can be altered through messages) had arose ( Zarefsky 12). The American public was in shambles, school children left with more questions than answers, and grieving families were carrying the bulk of it all (Eidenmuller 29). What this ... ... middle of paper ... ...ent would have presented an ineffective speech. This was not an easy task for me, because I am not a Reagan admirer; however I shed my listener bias to finally appreciate the Great Communicator in his element. Works Cited Cannon, Lou. “Actor, Governor, President, Icon.” The Washington Post. 6 June 2004. Web. 3 September 2010. . Eidenmuller, Michael E. Great Speeches for Better Speaking: Listen and Learn From America’s Most Memorable Speeches. New York: Mcgraw Hill, 2008. Google Books. Web. 4 September 2010. “Space: They Slipped the Surly Bonds of Earth to Touch the Face of God.” Time. 10 February 1986. Web. 3 September 2010. . Zarefsky, David. Public Speaking: Strategies for Success. 6th ed. Allyn & Bacon, 2011. Print.

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