In the speech that addressed the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger by Former President Ronald W. Reagan succeeded in meeting the emotional requirements of many audiences. He started his speech saying that he planned to speak to report the State of the Union that night which meant he had to reschedule it, which is a difficult task to do. This speech only went on four minutes, but it still resonated many feelings and emotions through those minutes. The speech was separated into sections; those who showed great sorrow, the families of the fallen astronauts, the saddened and curious school children, and to NASA. Reagan’s message was that the explosion of the Challenger was a horrible accident that our country had to undergo, but this loss will not diminish our quest in space.
Ronald Reagan names each crew member in the third paragraph of the speech and praises them for their great courage. By using the names of every one of the victims separately, he was most likely able to make those that knew the victims feel as if he truly cared about their loved one. He also further maintained the vast amount of emotion by saying “Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger.” This showed that he was including the two of them with the nation as a whole. He was not referring to himself and Nancy as the president and the first lady, but rather as “actual people” like the rest of those who were mourning that day. Reagan calls us again to mourning and establishes the audience as the mourners. He used strong emotional words to show more emotion, some of the words he used were a tragedy, mourn, terrible, and many more. This use of vocabulary makes the emotions going through everybody stronger and shows that he understands the terrible tragedy that the event has made. By showing his comprehension and understanding of the situation he was able to narrow his focus to the most affected audience, the families of the astronauts.
Reagan recognizes the incongruity of trying to suggest how the families should feel and proposes commendation by using words like “daring,” “brave,” “special grace,” and “special spirit.” He then visualizes the crew’s place in history as exceeding science altogether by calling them, pioneers. Him calling the crew pioneers cloaks them in a legendary title, which dates back to the nation’s earliest endeavors. This makes the astronaut’s deaths be portrayed as a fair result of their endeavors. The families and astronauts weren’t the only ones that were affected, one of the astronauts was a teacher.
Reagan was able to transition his speeches focus into the five million students amidst are the students of Christa McAuliffe’s class and school. He briefly takes on the aspect of an understanding parent by saying “I know it’s hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen.”
Ronald then gives a direct address to NASA in which he gives encouragement. Earlier in the speech, he said: “the future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave”. Reagan used this statement to inspire the American people and NASA to not let this tragedy prevent them from taking chances and exploring the undiscovered. In the direct address, he then was able to turn back and connect with the whole audience again by saying “we share it.”
In closing, to Reagan’s speech he generates a passionate and poetic moment. He captures the mythological tendency neighboring humanity’s eternal journey to solve the riddles of the undiscovered. Reagan used the phrase “touch the face of God” which was taken from the poem called “High Flight” written by John Magee, who was an American Aviator in World War II. John Magee was inspired to write this poem while he was climbing to 33,000 feet in his Spitfire plane.
As a result, Ronald Reagan’s speech established an emotional connection that used his credibility as a President and expressed his passion for exploration to comfort the American people. In an effort to connect emotionally with the American people, the President included the entire nation with words of unity throughout his speech to mourn the tragic loss together. The extensive amounts knowledge of the space program and other historical events along with being President gave Reagan more credibility to reassure the American people that America will persist past this tragedy. While President Reagan did not plan to address this kind of speech, he was able to calm the American people and reassure them that this tragedy would only make America stronger as a nation.