March 25, 2011
Nixon’s Silent Voice
In a nation divided by war in 1969, Richard Nixon delivered a speech with the hope that it would bring Americans together. At this time the American people stood divided on their views on the war. Many people wanted to withdraw from the war and many people supported the war in the quest for peace. The Vietnam War had already been going on for quite some time when Nixon came into office. Nixon was the second youngest president; he came to office in 1969 as the 37th president of the United States. (Sheppard) The goal of his speech was to unite the nation as he pursued the war and to try to win peace. Americans were divided among going to war and ending the war for peace. The tone of the speech, use of questions, and the use of anecdotes along with other rhetorical appeals such as facts, ethos, and pathos make this speech effective in persuading the audience in his quest for freedom in Vietnam.
Nixon’s speech makes a direct address to the people when Nixon says, “My fellow Americans.” Nixon wrote this speech with the acknowledgement that the war was of great concern to many Americans. The word “fellow” sets an inclusive tone to his speech. Fellow, a word that suggests unity makes the readers feel as if they are equal to the president; because of this tone Nixon in turn will receive the respect of the people by treating them equally. The American people can relate to the president better if they feel equal to him and not beneath him just because he is the president of the United States. By setting this tone from the beginning of the speech it catches the attention of his listeners.
More specifically he addresses the peace loving and anti-war citizens of America. In order to appeal to this audience, Nixon makes it seem like he was with the public in the struggle for peace and not to just prolong the war without a plan. He attempted to achieve this goal by stating that he was not a supporter of the policies that were taken in the war so far. Nixon knows that his audience would love to withdraw combat forces out of Vietnam but, he is aware that as a result he would be known as a peace maker but he knew that to withdraw troops would be disastrous for Vietnam and for the cause of peace. He appeals to the peace loving and anti-war citizens by telling them that he is going to continue his campaign of the administration before him. By doing this it again makes him appear trustworthy to the people. Americans want to be able to trust their leader. Nixon also uses the word “We” which also includes him to be equal to everyone else in America. It involves the American people so that they feel like they have a part in the fight for freedom.
This speech makes an obvious appeal to the American people; it is an attempt to persuade them that the war in Vietnam is necessary for a free world. Nixon explains that he was never a supporter of the war and gave the impression that he didn’t want “Johnson’s War” to become “Nixon’s War.” He makes himself seem noble to the people by stating that he could not pull out forces just to avoid the blame for the war. He explains that he has a bigger obligation to think of and that was “the effect of my decision on the next generation, and on the future of peace and freedom in America, and in the world” (Nixon). This statement makes him noble and shows that he is thinking into the future. He is noble because he wants to stand up for peace not only for the people now but for the people of the future. It shows he is not going to just solve the problem they have now just to fix it but that he knows his decision needs to be a good for the future as well. People will want their president to be strong in his decisions now and for the future of the people. Nixon does this by stating that if he was to just pull out troops now to end the war that in the future our children could be back over in Vietnam fighting the same fight for peace. Ending the...
Cited: Nixon, Richard M. “The Great Silent Majority." American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States. Web. 03 Apr. 2011.
"Richard Nixon." Wikipedia, Web. 03 Apr. 2011.
Sheppard. "The 37th US President - Richard Nixon." Sheppard Software. Web. 03 Apr. 2011.
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