Word Challenge IV: Two Words, One Speech – You’ll Never Guess!


This entry was posted on 4RIISE.com on 2/6/12. Part IV of our ongoing Word Challenge series proves that great speeches can inspire and entertain.

Great speeches use deliberate language and strong vocabulary to sway the audience to a point of view, address injustice, or simply to inspire. We’ve looked a at few figures in US history who have done all those things and more. Not all great speeches happen in Congress or on Inauguration Day, however, or are even given by real-life people. Some speeches take place on Independence Day, or more specifically in “Independence Day” the movie.

When President Whitmore, played by Bill Pullman, addresses the assembled group of rag-tag fighter pilots who are charged with one last mission to defeat an invading alien force, his speech is succinct and elegant. His words are designed to resonate with his audience, since it is likely many of them won’t return. Since it’s a short speech, here is the text:

Good morning. Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world, and you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. Mankind, that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences any more. We will be united in our common interest. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from annihilation. We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist and should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice, ‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on, we’re going to survive.’ Today we celebrate our independence day!

The movie is available on Netflix, and the part with the dog gets me every time. The two words drawn from this speech are:

Tyranny
1. Cruel and oppressive government or rule.
2. A nation under such cruel and oppressive government.

Annihilation
1. the act or an instance of annihilating.
2. the state of being annihilated; extinction; destruction.

Tyranny and annihilation are great words – you may see them on a standardized test like the GRE, SAT, SSAT, or ISEE in a couple of different forms such as tyrant and annihilate. Or in a question like this:

Annihilate is to destroy as

(A) abbreviate is to speak
(B) repudiate is to box
(C) vitiate is to legislate
(D) raze is to flatten
(E) satiate is to enjoy

Can you think of any other Hollywood-scribed speeches which inspired you?

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