Samples Politics Ronald Reagan Challenger Speech Analysis

Ronald Reagan Challenger Speech Analysis

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How does President Reagan use narrative in his speech? Which type(s) of narrative does he use?

President Ronald Reagan was a skilled storyteller. His experience as an actor helped him give charismatic speeches that captivated American audiences. He usually managed to place a positive spin on many events that seemed horrid and dismal. When Reagan discusses the space shuttle challenger explosion that occurred on January 28, 1986, he uses biographical information, and news. He mentions people who died in the shuttle by name, such as Michael Smith and Judith Reznick. By using names, Reagan makes these people heroes that people can look up to and emulate in the future. He mentions that the shuttle explosion is a great loss and tragedy, but how the nation gets through the tragedy is the greater story. Reagan brings a sense of hope to a terrible situation and challenges Americans to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and survive the ordeal .

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How did those stories serve to reinforce and strengthen his central message?
Reagan uses the past to as a hopeful bridge that can carry American citizens into the future. He did not want Americans to be afraid and to have fear about what happened to the space shuttle and its riders. Reagan mentions how it is no coincidence that 390 years ago, explorer Sir Francis Drake died off the coast of Panama. He lived by the sea and also died that way, something that Reagan used to compare to what the astronauts did who died in the explosion. They perished doing something that they loved and that is something that needs to be honored. From that point, President Reagan stressed that the challenger crew should be remembered as pioneers and that Americans still need to have faith in the NASA Space Program. He reminds Americans that the space program is still young and is something that needs to continue. Reagan says that mistakes and setbacks may occur, but Americans must stay strong and persevere through tragic times. The space program is something that has still dazzled America .

What values and vision of America community does his speech portray?
The values and vision of America that Reagan discusses include bonding together in the face of tragedy. His words of “We mourn their loss as a nation together” (Reagan 1) portrays this sense of solidarity that Reagan is trying to instill in Americans who are devastated about people, such as teacher Christa McAuliffe, who died in the shuttle explosion. Connection, supporting each other, and love for one another is the good that can be pulled from tragedy. He also talked to children directly in speech to give them a sense of hope and resilience. Reagan said that while the explosion was tragic, he also explained to the children that sometimes taking a chance results in something bad, but that taking chances is something that only the brave engage in. He is encouraging kids to be brave in this life. Many kids were excited at that time to see space shuttle take off. Teachers and schools showed the takeoff on television sets in their rooms. The ending was unexpected, but moving forward is still needed .

Reagan said that Americans need to have faith in each other and the NASA space program. He stated that he still wants teachers and regular civilians to be part of space shuttle excursions in the future. That shows that he is not letting the explosion set him or America back. In the words of the United States president, “Nothing ends here. Our hopes and dream continue” (Reagan 1). The way that Reagan ended his speech both honored the space shuttle crew members and yet acknowledged the loss. Said Reagan about the crew, “. . . slipped the surly bonds of this earth to touch the face of God” (Reagan 1). Once again, Reagan was referring to the people are heroes, who died doing what they love. Living a life doing what you love is something that most Americans respected and valued in this life.

  • Reagan, Ronald. “Challenger: President Reagan Challenger Disaster Speech- 1/28/86.” Washington, D.C. : Reagan Foundation , 28 January 1986. Web.