I chose President Reagan's 1987 address to Soviet Union leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, "Tear down this wall!":
"We welcome change and openness for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable that would advance dramatically that cause of freedom and peace.
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate.
Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate.
Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
Hear speech here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xK30k2WTxY0
We were then asked to answer a couple questions to better nail down the elements within the speech:
Who is speaking? President Ronald Reagan
Why was/is the speech important to society?
Reagan's speech commemorated the 750th anniversary of Berlin. During 1987, Communism was on the rise and the Cold War was in full swing. Berlin was still divided (East: German Democratic Republic, West: Fed. Republic of Germany) with the wall being used as a preventative measure from traveling back and forth. The U.S. was battling the uprise of communism and the Reagan administration viewed the destruction of the wall as a way to fight this form of government. Reagan's speech was an assertive and powerful measure to tell Gorbacheve to tear down the wall and stand up to communism.
Why do you feel it is important or interesting?
This speech was exactly what the world needed in 1987. We needed to stand up to communism and Reagan's speech did exactly that. The "tear down this wall" statement was a huge controversy within the Reagan administration. They were worried that it might be an embarrassment to Gorbachev and ruin the friendship that Reagan had worked so hard to earn. But in the limo ride to Brandenburg Gate, Reagan made the decision: "It's gonna drive the State Department boys crazy, but I'm gonna leave it in." And he did. And Mr. Gorbachev tore down that wall.
What is the emotion, mood, tone, personality, feeling of the speech?
This speech is assertive and instructive. It was crucial that Reagan sound strong and powerful because the request he was asking for a big one. He speaks calmly and clearly and utilizes pauses and stresses to emphasize his message to Gorbachev. This was a high stress moment. Poor delivery was not an option.
What is intonation, emphasis, what is loud, stressed, or soft. Where are the pauses?
Just about every sentence, Reagan pauses to allow his words to sink in. He keeps his tone pretty streamline throughout his message until the end. His finish is what makes this speech. Reagan uses Gorbachev's name four times to make absolutely certain just who this is to be directed to. The first request, Reagan instructs Gorbachev to open this gate. The crowd cheers but they know it's not finished. In the final sentence, Reagan brings it home. He pauses for effect just before he says, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"And the crowd goes nuts.
What do you feel should be loud or soft, long pause or rushed?
The final sentence is the power behind Reagan's speech. It is the perfect summary to the United States' feelings towards the wall and communist rule. Because of all the controversy within the Reagan administration, I think it also articulates Reagan's personality and how he ran his country. "Tear down this wall" is what should be the loudest and it is. Reagan's delivery to Gorbachev is just what the country needed.
Is there a call to action? When listening to it what are key/emphasized words?
If you haven't caught on to Reagan's instructions by now, well you've probably skimmed a little too quickly. The wall. Tear it down. Don't open it, tear it down. Mr. Gorbachev. Do it. Now.
How does it make you feel?
It makes you want to cheer at the end. Yes, tear that freakin' thing down. There is so much history behind this speech and behind this message. I can't even imagine what if felt to be in that crowd.
How do you imagine that the audience felt?
Electrified. It'll be a challenge to put this type in motion to further its electricity. East Berlin at that time was a dump. Just knowing that the future for yourself and your loved ones is going to be improved is something to cheer about it. It had been a long journey to get to June 12, 1987 but the tearing down of the wall was a step in the right direction. Reagan just put it on paper.
Could there be another interpretation of the speech?
Yes. That's what the Reagan administration fought so hard over. Gorbacheve could have interpreted Reagan's speech much differently than those people in the crowd. It could have been seen as too instructive and Reagan and the United States stepping over their line of control.
Write/Find a short bio of the person giving the speech:
Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States (1981–89). Prior to that, he was the 33rd Governor of California (1967–75), and a radio, film and television actor.
As president, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics", advocated reducing tax rates to spur economic growth, controlling the money supply to reduce inflation, deregulation of the economy, and reducing government spending. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, took a hard line against labor unions, and ordered an invasion of Grenada. He was re-elected in a landslide in 1984, proclaiming that it was "Morning in America". His second term was primarily marked by foreign matters, such as the ending of the Cold War, the1986 bombing of Libya, and the revelation of the Iran-Contra affair. Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", he supported anti-communist movements worldwide and spent his first term forgoing the strategy of détente by ordering a massive military buildup in an arms race with the USSR. Reagan negotiated with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, culminating in the INF Treaty and the decrease of both countries' nuclear arsenals.
Reagan left office in 1989. In 1994, the former president disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier in the year; he died ten years later at the age of 93. A conservative icon, he ranks highly in public opinion polls of U.S. Presidents and is credited for generating an ideological renaissance on the American political right. (He even has his own website: http://www.ronaldreagan.com/)