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It takes some metal to move a crowd with just words. But these words of great mean were more then just words. The speech they gave changed the world, changed the onset of mind of people who heard them.
WhatWhy goes through some of the greatest speeches of the world and the furor they created.
Antony’s speech ( Julius Ceaser )
My favorite speech of all time. This is from the play “Julius Ceaser” written by Shakespeare. The speech Antony delivered after the conspirators assasinated Julius Ceaser. Antony used his sarcasm and wit to turn the crowd against the perpetrators.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with Caesar … The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it …
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
(For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all; all honourable men)
Winston Churchill, “We Shall Fight on the Beaches”
June 4, 1940; House of Commons, London
During the Battle of France, Allied Forces became cut off from troops south of the German penetration and perilously trapped at the Dunkirk bridgehead. On May 26, a wholesale evacuation of these troops, dubbed “Operation Dynamo,” began. The evacuation was an amazing effort-the RAF kept the Luftwaffe at bay while thousands of ships, from military destroyers to small fishing boats, were used to ferry 338,000 French and British troops to safety, far more than anyone had thought possible. On June 4, Churchill spoke before the House of Commons, giving a report which celebrated the “miraculous deliverance” at Dunkirk, while also seeking to temper a too rosy of view of what was on the whole a “colossal military disaster.”
I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
Tryst with Destiny – Jawaharlal Nehru
August 15, 1947; New Delhi, India
After more than 200 years of British rule, India got independence on 15th August 1947. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first prime minister of independent India. He delivered this speech on the stroke of midnight before the constituent assembly. The speech became famous for its ‘tryst with destiny’ remark.
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
Ask What You Can Do For Your Country – John F. Kennedy
January 20, 1961;Washington D.C.
This speech was made by John F. Kennedy as inaugural address on January 20, 1961. In this speech he asks all Americans to unite against common enemies of tyranny, poverty, disease, and war.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Apology – Socrates
4th century B.C. Athens, Ancient Greece
Socrates, a great scholar and teacher in Athens, was facing the charges of corruption and misleading the people. People, especially youngsters were greatly influenced by his words and ideas. The rulers found him threatening to their throne. Socrates was arrested and put on trial. Court was set and he was asked to say something in his defense. ‘The Apology’ is what Socrates said in his defense. Instead of pleading for guilty, he chose to die with dignity.
Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth — that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has my own approaching end happened by mere chance. But I see clearly that to die and be released was better for me; and therefore the oracle gave no sign. For which reason also, I am not angry with my accusers, or my condemners; they have done me no harm, although neither of them meant to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them.
I am prepared to die – Nelson Mandela
April 20, 1964; Pretoria, South Africa
This speech was made from the dock at the opening of Mandela’s trial on charges of sabotage, Supreme Court of South Africa, Pretoria, April
During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
I have a Dream – Martin Luther King Jr.
August 28, 1963; Washington D.C.
“I Have a Dream” is one of the most popular speeches in the history, delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr., in which he called for racial equality and an end to discrimination. Delivered to over 200,000 civil rights supporters, the speech is often considered to be one of the greatest and most notable speeches in human history and was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century by a 1999 poll of scholars of public address.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
Swami Vivekananda Speech at Chicago
In this famous speech, Swami Vivekananda spoke of his vision for an end to violence and fanaticism. His message of the
Sisters and Brothers of America, It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. l thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions
; andI thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration .Iam proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to the southernIndia and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.
The above presented speeches are not in any chronological order and only present my (Shashank Agarwal) personal views.
Please do tell what you think of the great words of glory.