Thursday, February 18, 2010

(Words) Anagram for Peace (Sword)

More than one historian will attest that the Battle of Britain was won by a single human voice: Winston Churchill's.

Buildings and bridges broke under the relentless Nazi bombing, but thanks to the great rhetorician's  unwavering encouragement, the will of the people never broke.

What a political figure says, and how he says it, does have an importance of its own.

Douglas L. Wilson, in Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words, makes the point persuasively that Lincoln's rhetoric bypassed the two other branches of government and went directly to the people to rally them through a terrible Civil War.

While less eloquent than Churchill's as spoken literature, the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt's fireside chats put steel into the spines of the people who put steel into the weaponry of World War II.

With all due respect to the oratory of the contemporary leader who has yet to put substance behind his own fine words, I submit that there have been two sublime examples of great political oratory in my lifetime:

John F. Kennedy's inaugural address provoked an entire nation into a new and better view of the world and itself.

And eight years ago yesterday, while the drums of war thundered and a trauma-shocked nation numbly allowed the unraveling of its Constitution, a single voice uttered a Prayer for America.  It rings as true today as it did then.  You can read it here:

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