Rhetorical Analysis of John F. Kennedy's Moon Speech

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September 12th,1962, the height of the Cold War, tensions between the US and Soviet Union were at a high and both nations were trying to outdo the other. It was a common belief that the Americans were losing the ‘Space Race’ since the USSR had become the first nation to put a man in space. John F. Kennedy was determined to not allow the Soviets to go down in history as the pioneers of space exploration, he was determined to put the first man on the moon. At Rice University, on September 12th 1962 JFK delivered a speech talking about how and why the United States will put the first man on the moon. JFK uses pathos and logos throughout his speech to help persuade the American people to support the decision to go to the moon.

John F. Kennedy’s diction and word choice was used to strengthen his pathos by appealing to the audience's self identity as American people. Throughout his speech JFK will use words such as 'we' and “our” and at the beginning of the speech he says “my fellow citizens”. JFK’s word choice in the examples listed is not only helping him appear more relatable to the audience by referring to his goal as a goal that “we” all share, but his word choice is also creating a sense of nationalism amongst the audience. By using the audience's patriotism and pride for their country, JFK is able to unite them to support his cause of traveling to the moon.

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President Kennedy uses logos in his speech by incorporating a question and answer format and using repetition. During his speech president Kennedy asks the audience three rhetorical questions that demonstrate the hard work and eventual positive outcome people have done in the past. He asks, “Why Climb the highest mountain?” and “Why 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?”; he then relates this back to the decision to go to the moon by declaring “We Choose to go to the moon,We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”. JFK is using logos to compare the other groundbreaking achievements of the past to his goal of being the first to set foot on the moon. By comparing the moon landing to the triumphs of the past, and achievements that were once thought to be impossible, JFK is drawing a connection between these events of the past and the moon landing that will take place in the “decade”.

Conclusion

On September 12th,1962 John F. Kennedy managed to inspire a crowd of 40,000 people to support the cause of putting a man on the moon. His speech is an excellent example of how proper use of pathos and logos can bring people together to support a common cause. After his speech was delivered, the idea of the United States being the first ever nation to put a man on the moon became a huge public interest and had the support of the American people. Unfortunately John F. Kennedy did not live to see what he spoke about that day, but long after he was gone, the emotions he rallied on September 12th 1962 still live on.

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Rhetorical Analysis of John F. Kennedy’s Moon Speech. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-john-f-kennedys-moon-speech/
“Rhetorical Analysis of John F. Kennedy’s Moon Speech.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-john-f-kennedys-moon-speech/
Rhetorical Analysis of John F. Kennedy’s Moon Speech. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-john-f-kennedys-moon-speech/> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
Rhetorical Analysis of John F. Kennedy’s Moon Speech [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-john-f-kennedys-moon-speech/
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