|World Trade Center, Post 9/11 Attack, 2001 |
9/11 is to my generation’s collective consciousness what John F. Kennedy’s assassination was to my parents’ generation. In the years since those attacks, life went on for many of us (I met my husband, started a family and worked to build my own piece of the American Dream).
It wasn’t lost on me the sacrifices being made by our servicemen and women in the global struggle against terrorism. In recent years, the recession and other domestic concerns were front of mind rather than this war, especially as the housing market collapsed, the stock market imploded and joblessness increased.
|John O'Boyle / The Star-Ledger|
|Doug Mills/The New York Times |
As a writer, I thought President Obama’s speech was well crafted and hit the important points that an event of this magnitude should convey.
...His words needed historical context, clarity of purpose, and faith in the resiliency of our country to see this manhunt (and the broader terrorrism struggle) through.
...Above all, his words needed to tell a story. He was most effective as a storyteller when describing how the “images of 9/11 are seared in our national memory." He said the “worst images” were those not visible publicly – such as the homes which had “an empty seat at the dinner table” and the children forced to grow up without a parent.
Speech Coach: Obama Delivered
“I think President Obama did a good job,” says my colleague Carmie McCook, a Washington, D.C.-based speech and crisis communications coach.
For a speech of this importance, McCook says three things needed to be conveyed– the “what,” the “why” and the “what’s next.”
“You need to speak to your audience and address their top concern,” she told me in an informal phone interview. “In this case, the terrorist of our decade is now gone.”
She adds that you need to provide as much detail as possible – observing that as the president recounted the operation in the compound, “you were visually going there with the SEALs,” she says.
“Finally, you need to explain what’s next – where we go from there. He made it clear that this doesn’t mean our war is over but it certainly means that we’ve made a huge impact on people.”
|Jon Favreau, Obama's director of speechwriting.|
My One Peeve
If there was one thing I would have changed in President Obama’s remarks, it would be his use of “I” – “I directed,” “at my direction” “I repeatedly”…I understand the need to show strong leadership so close to a re-election bid, but I would have used more inclusive words like “we” and “us” every time. Afterall, it was a collective effort that achieved this mission, and it will take every one of us to be vigilant to safeguard our country from another day like September 11, 2001. I pray that Monday’s actions lead us further along that noble path.
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