Words are divine. Words are mesmerizing. Words can cut through the paradigm of human emotions and knock out what one feels in the heart through the tongue. Can you imagine your world without speech? Perhaps, not! It is this very trait that differentiates humans from animals. Great leaders have delivered great speeches in tough times. These speeches have made an indelible impact on the audiences’ minds and souls. Awesome oratory has lifted spirits in the darkest of times, replaced sorrows with smiles, instilled confidence in a state of helplessness, inspired people when weak, rendered courage to the brave and changed the course of history.
It is often said that actions speak louder than words. But, in reality words provide motivation behind those actions. Strong and poignant speeches have the power to unite the world and divide it. Ironically, seldom has mankind given due cognizance to the importance of speeches by great orators that have shaped the world as it is today. So, I present to you
10 fabulous speeches delivered by the most honorable orators and leaders of all time:
10. Inauguration Address by John F Kennedy
U.S. President John F Kennedy delivered his inaugural address on January 20, 1961 at Washington D.C. He was elected as the youngest U.S. President and by a twist of fate replaced the oldest U.S. President. Kennedy took the oath of office as the 35th President of the United States. His election to office ushered in a new era in U.S. politics and he was often termed as the harbinger of optimism, vivaciousness and energy associated with youth. His speech generates a sense of rendering service in the people. He talks of giving back to society in whatever ways one can. He encourages the citizens to work sincerely and calculatedly towards the growth of the nation and the world as a whole in his speech.
“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.”
9. We Shall Fight On the Beaches by Winston Churchill
The House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom reverberated with the words “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” on the historic date of June 4, 1940. His speech had the power and gusto to glorify an operation that many feel was actually a military disaster of enormous proportions.
“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.”This wonderful speech though delivered in a moment of turmoil actually relieved the British citizens and instilled in them a sense of confidence and faith in the system.
8. Speech of Alexander, the Great
The world finds his oration awe inspiring and jaw dropping. His lines are still quoted by many after centuries. Such is his reverence that a speech given in 335 B.C., is reminisced and remembered the world over. He continues to motivate and inspire through his speeches. When he was inching closer towards the conquest of India, he instilled valor, alertness and stealth in his army that had got bored and sluggish after remaining away from home for 10 long years.
“It was a most slavish thing to luxuriate and a most royal thing to labor.” These words got etched in the minds of his army and after that they were able to taste victory.
7. Apology by Socrates
We accept and conform to the set norms without daring to question them. However, in 399 B.C. in the city of Athens, a man dared to raise his voice against unrealistic and impractical beliefs incorporated into human lives by none other than humans themselves. He engaged with the youth of the city and tried to introduce them to a world of reason rather than the world of superstition. Socrates was a free thinker. However, his freedom of speech was curtailed by the authorities and he was charged of corrupting the youth and disrespecting the deities. One of the first speeches delivered or perhaps even written by Socrates, “Apology” gives us a beautiful and unambiguous insight into Socrates’ mind.
A notable excerpt from his speech goes like this;“If I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you are still less likely to believe me.”
6. You give me Blood, and I promise you Freedom by Subhash Chandra Bose
Subhash Chandra Bose, one of the greatest freedom fighters in Indian History is lovingly called ‘Netaji.’ Most citizens of India feel proud to be a part of the nation where such a great man took birth. His oratory skills are applauded and appreciated the world over. Never have such profound words like “You give me blood, and I promise you Freedom” have been used in a freedom struggle. His words instantly struck a chord with the people and infused in them a sense of patriotism and belonging to the nation for which they were willing to sacrifice their lives.
5. The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln
How much can 3 minute rhetoric inspire and deliver? Perhaps not much! However, a 3 minute speech can do wonders if the orator is Abraham Lincoln. Transforming a betrayed, slain and war torn nation into a powerful democracy and economy is definitely not child’s play. Incorporating the idea of a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people without mincing words is the true test of a nation. Lincoln’s motivational Gettysburg address after the war enthralled the crowd. This is perhaps one of the shortest speeches in history with a colossal impact! He unfailingly propagated equality.
A few lines that bear testimony to this fact are; “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
4. Quit India Address by Mahatma Gandhi
The pioneer of truth and non violence, Gandhi has much to his credit. When India was stifled and blanketed under the British Rule, Gandhi came to the country’s rescue. The only difference was that Gandhi adopted a distinctive method. He thwarted away the tools of violent destruction and embraced truth and non violence as his sole weapons against the adamant British Government. Gandhi immersed himself in the freedom struggle and his efforts ultimately bore fruit. Civil disobedience movement and the Dandi March were launched by Gandhi that shook the roots of British rule. Not only Indians but the whole world praises Gandhi for his principles and ideologies. Everybody has got something to learn from this man who had seen a lot in his life.
“I believe that in the history of the world, there has not been a more genuinely democratic struggle for freedom than ours”, said Gandhi addressing the crowd that had gathered to support him during the Quit India Movement.
3. An Ideal for which I am prepared to die by Nelson Mandela
“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 need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Call him the harbinger of equality in complete, vital force or just another anti-apartheid revolutionary, he is fondly known as a fighter who has never given up. Mandela’s thoughts, actions and words are as true now as they were then during his trial in 1964. Involved in a national struggle from liberation of its people from the unwarranted shackles of society, Mandela continues to inspire through his work. Being a lawyer, he had dedicated himself to the correction of outright injustices in the society.
2. A Tryst with Destiny by Jawaharlal Nehru
At midnight on 14th of August 1947, a nation woke up to redeem its freedom. A nation that is a rainbow of contradictions in its truest sense. India was free from colonial rule but Indians were separated. The country was bitterly partitioned into India and Pakistan. It was at this crucial juncture that Pundit Nehru delivered his monumental speech that captures the culmination of a long drawn freedom struggle. The speech ‘tryst with destiny’ is popular all over the world. These words were spoken by Nehru addressing a nation which had newly awakened to its deep slumber and long drawn slavery.
”Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”
1. I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr.
Nerve wracking, marvelous and electrifying; these are the words that can be used to describe Martin Luther King Junior’s speech. Delivered with exuberance, dignity and passion, the speech evokes human sentimentality and ethics. Mr. Martin talks of broken promises and discrimination against the blacks. He became the voice of a community that was oppressed and looked down upon for centuries together. His movement mobilized the populace to dismantle such oppression. He dream’t of a world where racial inequalities do not exist and where discrimination based on color is abolished. His speech contained a beautiful line which goes as follows:
“I have a dream that 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.”