In his 1961 inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy uses several forms of repetition as primary rhetorical devices. He begins by addressing his audience as “we,” thereby establishing the commonalities between him and the audience or the American people. Encouraging Americans to join with him in embarking on a “new...
In his 1961 inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy uses several forms of repetition as primary rhetorical devices. He begins by addressing his audience as “we,” thereby establishing the commonalities between him and the audience or the American people. Encouraging Americans to join with him in embarking on a “new beginning,” he lays out the diverse avenues they will pursue together. He does so by using the phrases “we shall,” “let us,” and “let us begin.” Toward the end of the speech, he brings up “the call to service,” using the metaphor of a trumpet that acts “as a call” to different kinds of service.
The president includes “we shall” throughout the addresses. In one instance, he expresses his confidence in the people’s shared commitment to communicate their intentions to other countries.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price...to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
He also uses the phrase in regard to American support for new countries that resist “iron tyranny” and those that oppose aggression in the Americas.
We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom....
Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them.
Numerous phrases including “let” and “let us,” especially “let us begin” occur throughout the address. Three uses of "let us" in one paragraph precede a list of cases that begins with “let both sides.” After that list, he offers a summation of the difficulties involved and then ends this section with “But let us begin.”
So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
Let both sides explore what problems unite us....
All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
In the last few paragraphs, the president shifts the emphasis to the people’s role. He likens military service to other kinds of public service that they may be asked, or called, to do. A trumpet is summoning them, “as a call” to diverse ways to do things for their country.
The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.
Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need—not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle....