As many of you know, I’ve been reading Erik Larson’s book about Churchill during the German blitzkrieg of England in 1940-41, and have tried to glean lessons about leadership and how one faces death and destruction, and survives/even triumphs. Very interesting read. And Churchill’s speeches clearly rallied his people (and America), and are remembered even to this day: “We shall fight on the beaches…we shall never surrender…”
I was not around for Roosevelt’s famous “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (I know I’m old—but not THAT old 😊) that helped rally America out of the great depression and it, too, is still remembered and repeated to this day, nearly 100 years later.
The power of WORDS is impressive.
I do remember hearing John F. Kennedy’s words as a young kid, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”. Inspirational then and now.
And though I was never the #1 fan of George W. Bush or Barack Obama, I will NEVER forget when each of them won me over for good.
October 30, 2001, Game 3 of the World Series, and America still on edge from 9/11, George Bush strode to the mound at Yankee Stadium and delivered a perfect strike in the ceremonial “first pitch” even though millions of people (myself included) worried that he might be assassinated there, out in the open by himself in the middle of the diamond. Bush, who was never a great speaker, did with this action the same thing, though. Rallied the people and courageously showed that there was hope and a future. That day, I became a fan. (Funny side story—Derek Jeter, the Hall of Fame Yankee shortstop, told President Bush before he went out “Don’t bounce it. They’ll boo you”. New Yorkers are a tough crowd 😊).
And on June 26, 2015, when President Obama went to deliver the eulogy for the nine black parishioners mindlessly shot down in cold blood by a 21 year old white supremacist after praying with them at the Charleston, South Carolina Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, to deliver solace to the families, the community and the nation, and spoke about grace (many of the victims’ families had already displayed incredible grace in forgiving and praying for the shooter) he extemporaneously broke into song, singing Amazing Grace and lifting the spirits of those in the church and throughout America and the world, I became a fan.
I will never forget either of those moments and the strength and pride in humankind that they gave to me and millions of others.
It would be so timely today if something someone says/does in the near future will be one of the things that not only lifts our spirits and rallies our nation, but is remembered for generations to come as a symbol of the strength and the resilience of the human spirit.