FDR’s Pearl Harbor Speech

7 Dec

Today marks 74 years since the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor by Japan. In the wake of the tragedy, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave one of history’s most famous speeches. We can learn some powerful skills and techniques from this speech.

Listen to the full speech here and read along with it here: FDR Pearl Harbor.  Take note of what FDR is trying to accomplish with the speech and places where there is an applause.

Skill: Anaphora

Anaphora- the first word repeater. By repeating the first word(s) of a sentence, you drive your point home.

FDR uses anaphora to emphasize the scale of the attacks by the Japanese on December 7th.  He is also using it to emphasize his point that December 7th was an extremely important day (“which will live in infamy”).

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

An anaphora makes the listeners/readers predict what you are about to say.  It has a subconscious effect of creating harmony with them, because they know what to expect.  Listeners/readers that feel harmonious with you are more likely to believe you and be convinced by you.

More examples here and here.

Skill Rule of 3s

Skill – Rule of Threes- When giving examples, 3 is a nice round number of examples to give. It has a finality and satisfaction to it. It is not too many and it is not too few, it is just right. Here are some famous examples:

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
“Blood, sweat and tears”
“Location, location, location”

More info on the Rule of Threes: Here, Here, and Here #SeeWhatIDidThere?!

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