I’m taking a break from the comics talk today to bring you a special treat.
Every year around this time, my sophomore honors students, in preparation for AP Language and Composition, write presidential inaugural address speeches. They get into groups, study past presidential speeches, select a pivotal year in American history in which there was no presidential election (1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1990, 2002, 2010) research the social, political, and economic state of the nation and world during that time, and they write a 6-8 minute speech as the new president. They dress up; we celebrate; they learn about rhetorical devices; we are all good. I developed this yearly project from a fantastic presentation that I attended at the NCTE Conference a few years back in Las Vegas.
Without fail, I always get amazing speeches, and this year was no different. The speeches were so good this year that I decided to share one with you. The following speech is from a group in my 2nd period that selected 1954 as their year. The president, Caleb, did an outstanding job delivering the speech; however, you did not have to be here to understand just how amazing the speech is. I hope you enjoy this fabulous piece of collaborative student writing. If you would like more info on this project, please let me know. I assign this every year, and it keeps getting better!
1954: A Year of Promise
My fellow Americans:
As we gather here today to celebrate this revered and momentous occasion, we must not forget of the issues at hand. The time has come to decide the fate of this great nation, for we have found ourselves engulfed in a struggle unlike any in history.
Today, we are faced with substantial affairs, both here at home and abroad. I can say for certain that the road that lies ahead of us will not be easy. However, ever since our founding fathers wrote and signed the Constitution that I have sworn to preserve, protect, and defend, this country has been known to take the road less traveled.
This country has been known to stand up for freedom and democracy when others turn and run. This country has been known to stand firm for our beliefs even when we are opposed. And this country has been known to persevere and endure in perilous and indecent times.
In order to match the threats that wait at our door, we have crafted new technologies that are beckoning in a new age, a nuclear age. This new age of technology has surely brought us wonders to behold as well as abominations to abhor.
During the Second World War, two atomic bombs were dropped on the nation of Japan. The larger of the bombs dropped upon the Japanese city of Nagasaki killed approximately forty thousand people. The two bombs together killed an estimated one hundred six thousand people and had injured approximately one hundred ten thousand others. We have developed weapons that can unleash more destruction than those two bombs combined.
Although immensely destructive, these weapons were created with the goal of peace in mind. However, through their lack of vision, the administration that gave birth to these weapons could only see great destruction as a means to that end of peace.
In our seemingly endless struggle against the U.S.S.R. and Communism, it is imperative that we continue to expand and improve our nuclear arsenal. I am obligated to make decisions for the greater good of this nation, and I believe that these weapons will protect and ensure our safety. But I pray that these weapons are never used.
For my administration and I are dedicated to using nuclear technology in a manner that is consistent with what we preach, and not with what those who came before us have practiced. I believe in atoms for peace. Recently, the first atomic submarine, U.S.S. Nautilus, launched. There was no ulterior motive behind the development of this technology. We wanted to show the world that the inventiveness of man was not limited to his destruction, but that it can extend towards divinity.
Over the years, the nation has proven a great many things. One of the many things we have proven to the world is that we will not allow Communism to prevail. In the Korean War, we fought against the spread of Communism. We could not stand idly by. Communism is a dangerous political theory, especially in the minds of the weak and unstable. Our involvement in the Korean War showed the Soviet Union, and their allies, that we are resilient and are a force to be reckoned with. Through our efforts, we have reestablished peace and given hope for peace to the next generation. Our accomplishments are indeed great, but so are the costs. We have lost many brave men. We must never forget them or their sacrifices. For life is too precious a gift to waste on trifling things.
The loss of life in this country has been far too great, and the polio disease is one to blame. This disease has crippled too many lives, families, and communities. I have seen the weariness of mothers and fathers with children stricken with polio. My heart goes out to them. And there is hope. I have been informed that one brilliant Dr. Jonas Salk, an American, is nearing completion of a vaccination. There is no doubt that his work will save countless lives.
I beseech every American to do the same: to save a life. We all know someone who is in dire need of our help. I would like you to visualize who you would aid in their most desperate hour. Perhaps, it is close friend, or a neighbor. Perhaps, it is a relative, an aunt, uncle, cousin. No matter who it may be, we all would be willing to forget about our differences in order to help those close to us. I admire this country because we go above and beyond to help our brethren.
And today, our African American brethren need our help. We must forget about our differences in order to help them just as we would to help our relatives and friends. Recently, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision, in the Brown v. Board case, overturning “separate but equal” as unconstitutional, stating that segregation in public schools was a violation of the 14th amendment. I support this ruling fully. For too long this nation has been divided underneath the veil of unity. We have extended our democratic beliefs to others across the world, and now we must exemplify that democracy extends its arms of freedom to all. We must allow integration, peaceful integration. It is the right thing to do. We are our brother’s keeper. May God let brotherly love abide in us all.
We must remember that we are not threatened because we are weak, but strong. We are not opposed because we are afraid, but fearless. And above all, we must remember that we have not reached a summit unmatched in man’s history because we succeed, but because we fail and rise again.
“Miller Center.” American President: Dwight David Eisenhower: Domestic Affairs. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2015.
“Eisenhower Presidential Library.” Eisenhower Presidential Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2015.