Ronald Reagan's Space Shuttle Challenger

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Ronald Reagan’s “Space Shuttle Challenger” Since the presidency of George Washington, the people of The United States have turned to the commander in chief in times of distress to receive assurance and hope. Kurt Ritter comments on President Reagan’s address to the nation given on January 28, 1986 saying, “Perhaps no president could have fulfilled the country’s need to mourn and, then, to begin to heal as skillfully as Ronald Reagan (Ritter, 3).” On that morning the space shuttle “Challenger” violently exploded while the nation watched live televised coverage of the shuttle’s launch. President Reagan was scheduled to give his State of the Union Address on that date, but instead he reached out the country in this time of mourning. He spoke from his oval office to heartbroken teachers, children, NASA Space Engineers, and the entire country. President Reagan’s reaction to the tragedy of the challenger guided the United States out of despair and into a new light of hope behind seven fallen heroes. In this essay I will show that Reagan gave our country a new light of hope through his emphasis on Pathos but also incorporating Ethos and Logos in this memorable presentation. There is no doubt that the when the President of the United States speaks everyone listens to what he has to say. This credibility makes the Ethos of Reagan’s Speech almost unsurpassable. As mentioned Reagan was scheduled to give a State of the Union Address to our country on the evening of January 28, 1986. Instead, he postponed it, because “the story of the day was tragedy. Here he wanted to give an upbeat speech about America moving ahead. It just didn’t fit. It seemed in congruous (Weinraub).” He showed the country that his priority is the emotions of his people by, for the first time in history, postponing on the State of the Union speech in order to discuss the current event. This strengthened the creditability of his argument immensely. He likened the astronauts to pioneers and stated in his speech that “They had a special grace, that special spirit that says, ‘Give me a challenge and I’ll meet it with joy.” With this he appeals to the spiritual side of his audience using the word grace to describe the fallen. Again, “The president concluded by attaching the nation’s sorrow to God’s grace (Ritter, 4).” He said “As they prepared for there journey and waved ... ... middle of paper ... ...ng that “nothing ends here”. Reagan’s speech on the night of January 28, 1986 dramatically “took the first step toward uniting the country in its grief (Ritter, 4)”. Ronald Reagan reached out to the schoolchildren of America and all other citizens of the United States to counsel them in time of tragedy. He gave hope to the nation through emotional and spiritual reference. He was effective in conveying his message but the way his thoughts were organized was in part ineffective. His speech is very unorganized, and he could have ordered his thoughts better. More importantly than disorganization though, Ronald Reagan reached out to a nation that needed him as there president. He gave the people of the United States hope and Reassurance, a task that the President has been expected to do since the beginning of our country. Citations Apple, R.W. Jr. “President As Healer.” The New York Times 28 Jan. 1986:A2. Ritter, Kurt, and David Heary. Ronald Reagan: The Great Communicator. Connecticut: Greenwood, 1992. Sloan, Thomas O. ed. Technical Communication New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Weinraub, Bernard “Reagan Postpones State of Union Speech.” The New York Times 29 Jan. 1986:A9.
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