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Inspiring Speeches by Henry V and John F. Kennedy

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The timeless qualities associated with these two historical leaders inspire young leaders up until today despite the evolution of time. William Shakespeare’s play ‘Henry V Speech St. Crispin’s Day’ and John F. Kennedy’s speech ‘We Choose to Go to the Moon’ use motivation, vision, and determination. For leaders to be effective we carry out these qualities to become effective leaders.

Shakespeare depicts a profound lesson in leadership. King henry’s persuasive address is a rhetorical masterpiece. His speech is not only tremendously affective but also immensely profound. He seized every moment, embraced every challenge, but most importantly he was arrogantly determined. Determined to prove his country, patriotism and he did this by conquering France. Before the immense battle had begun, Henry delivered one of the most motivational speeches in dramatic history. Although the phrase is a remarkable piece of rhetoric, he inspires his men to an unexpected victory: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”.

To be an effective leader you must look into your soul to understand your values and what is most important for you.

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Why is St. Crispin’s Day speech still relevant when we all are aware that it was written 450 years ago? It defines Henry’s timeless qualities, it is Henry’s defining moment as a character.

John F. Kennedy grasped the importance of history and frames it as one of accelerating upward progress. He remained unparalleled, he was visionary yet pragmatic, powerful yet responsible. The outset of his speech “We Choose to Go to the Moon” I was immediately struck by Kennedy’s juxtaposition of dualities. He formulates and effectively communicates a bold vision. A vision of success and motivation. His positively connotated phrases “an hour of change and challenge”, “a decade of hope and fear”, “an age of both knowledge and ignorance”, it is evident that Kennedy’s juxtaposing the United States with positive connotated words such as change, hope and knowledge while the USSR is being associated with negative imagery “challenge”, “fear” and “ignorance”. And he demonstrates this using Richard Oliver’s leadership model. A leader will need to paint negative pictures to stop that potential future from occurring.

By delving into the raw humanity of these flawed yet often heroic characters, Henry V and John F. Kennedy marked the beginning of a bold new era for humanity; an era of peace and justice. To lead by example is the true treasure the secret to leadership in one simple measure. Henry V and john F. Kennedy became great not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others. A leader should speak passionately and imaginatively to motivate through challenges. They painted a vision of what success looks like, they both used the power of tricolon and tripling to sear words into our memories. “We few we happy few we band of brothers” and “the first waves” both use rhetorical techniques. Henry V and President John Kennedy both transcended times by leading ordinary men to dream of what was once unimaginable and to achieve what was one though impossible from winning a battle to the space exploration and they did this by presenting the timeless qualities.

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Inspiring Speeches by Henry V and John F. Kennedy. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
“Inspiring Speeches by Henry V and John F. Kennedy.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
Inspiring Speeches by Henry V and John F. Kennedy. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Dec. 2023].
Inspiring Speeches by Henry V and John F. Kennedy [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Dec 10]. Available from:
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