Rhetorical Analysis Of Ronald Reagan's Challenger Address Dallas Community Colleges Online Essay

1037 words - 5 pages

Kurian 1
Mariam Kurian
Professor Aaron Clark
English 1301
29 May 2019
Essay 1 Final Draft
On January 28, 1986, President Ronald Reagan spoke about a tragic incident that had taken place on the same day in his nationally broadcasted speech “Challenger Address” from the Oval Office at the White House. He addressed the destruction of the NASA space shuttle Challenger that exploded just after takeoff and claimed the lives of all seven astronauts on who were on board that unfortunate day. Reagan uses pathos to appeal to his audience’s values and emotions in order to achieve his purpose: to honor the Challenger crew, to remember their contributions and to remind us that we need to continue to be hopeful about the future of our nation’s space program and its scientific explorations.
To begin with, Reagan presents his audience with the incident of where our nation lost the crew of the Challenger space shuttle in flight and personally names each person in his speech. In response to this incident, he acknowledges the courage and bravery of the seven crew members and provides his audience with brief descriptions of their faithful service. For instance, Reagan describes the crew as a group of individuals who were courageous and passionate about discovering the unknown. He then comforts the families of the astronauts during this time of grief and assures them that the entire nation is also mourning the loss of these seven heroes. For his second claim, Reagan addresses the pain and confusion that children may have had in response to this incident and informs them that this unfortunate incident was a part of the process to explore and discover the parts of our universe that have not been explored. He questions whether our nation has become used to the idea of space exploration due to the 25-year experience of our country’s space program and reminds us that we still have a long way to go. He also reassures his audience that our space program will remain truthful to the public and promises them that our journeys will continue. He ends his speech by comparing the Challenger crew to the great explorer Sir Francis Drake and promises his audience that our nation will never forget these honorable people and their complete dedication to their mission.
President Ronald Reagan appeals to pathos in his speech by evoking feelings of sympathy, pride and hope in his listeners in order to honor the seven NASA astronauts and emphasize the need for our country to continue its exploration of space. He starts off by appealing to a common sympathy when he states that, “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." By including this, he is able to stir up emotions of pity and sympathy in his audience when he describes the fearlessness and valiance of the Challenger crew who lost their lives in the explosion. Reagan’s inclusion of the phrase “your loved ones” reminds us that these individuals, too, had families who will never be able to hear them talk or laugh again. He uses emotionally stimulating diction and a sentimental tone in his speech in order to highlight the importance of the crew’s actions and to make sure that these heroes will not be forgotten as time goes by. This outpouring of emotions from Reagan reinforces his main purpose of making his audience understand how important it is for us, as a nation, to mourn and remember the loss of these heroes. Secondly, he is able to evoke pride for these astronauts when he states, “And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly.” Here, Reagan proudly recognizes the brave actions of these individuals who knew that their lives would be in danger and yet they still chose to take part in this mission. By stating this, he inspires a sense of pride for these crew members in his listeners and encourages them to appreciate the immense amount of courage it took these heroes to join an assignment that others would not have had the bravery to do. Reagan’s use of emotive language acknowledges the fearlessness of the crew and strengthens the audience’s memories of these individuals to ensure that they are remembered with honor. Since his audience can now understand the significance of the crew’s actions, Reagan was able to support his main purpose of and help his readers understand his viewpoint. Lastly, he appeals to pathos by stating “The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.” Here, he is able to instill a sense of hope for the future of our space program in his audience through positive diction by using words such as “future” and “brave” to uplift and inspire them. He goes on to explain that the Challenger crew were pioneers of advancement and assures them that this is not the end of space exploration for our nation. Through the use of such highly connotative words, Reagan is able to influence the emotions of his audience in a positive manner and further reinforce his main purpose of keeping hope alive in these people during their tough times.
The use of pathos to evoke specific emotional responses such as sympathy and pride play a very important factor in the effectiveness of Ronald Reagan’s speech. This speech was monumental because he was able to comfort people who had lost their loved ones in the disaster by empathizing with them and remembering the fearlessness of the Challenger crew. He was also able to promise his listeners that the loss of these seven heroes would not be in vain and that space exploration would still continue to in order to finish what these individuals had started. In conclusion, Reagan was able to use pathos in a successful manner to support his main point by offering redemptive hope to his audience and encouraging them to keep moving forward as a nation.


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