Ronald Reagan Challenger Speech Analysis


The Challenger space shuttle launched on January 28, 1986, to transport crew and cargo, when not a minute later the shuttle exploded. Aboard the shuttle were seven crew members, one being a social studies teacher, and no one survived. Instead of delivering the state of the union speech that day, Ronald Reagan gave the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger address to the nation. Reagan sympathizes with the nation and advocates for the continuation of space exploration through ethos, logos, and pathos. 

Ronald Reagan uses credibility to commiserate with the nation and encourage future space travel within his explosion of the space shuttle Challenger address. Within his speech he is blunt, “We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute.” This portrays how he is open and honest with the public about events such as this. It increases his credibility because he owns up to the mistakes of the nation, and he is not trying to cover up or downplay them. He encourages space exploration by, “I've always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don't hide our space program.” This again shows that he is confident in the space program, and takes responsibility for what happened. Therefore, his credibility is increased because he remains confident in the space program as he wants further space exploration. Overall, Reagan uses credibility to advocate for future space exploration and condole America.

Through logic, Reagan condoles America for the loss of the crew while instilling the importance of the continuation of space exploration. At the beginning of his speech he honors the astronauts, “They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.” This illustrates how honorable the astronauts were as they put their lives on the line, and ultimately died for science so we could learn more about space. Therefore, this increases Reagan’s logical argument because he portrays that they did a lot for the nation and that their death was not in vain. He encourages further space exploration, “We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue.” This portrays how the situation was tragic, but it is not the end of space exploration for the country as a whole. Thus, Reagan’s argument effectiveness increases because he brings union among America to encourage space travel and condole Americans. Overall, Ronald Reagan effectively uses logic to condole Americans while instilling the need for space travel. 

Ronald Reagan plays on emotions to sympathize with the country and push for further space exploration. He begins his speech with, “We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.” This shows how Reagan shares the grief with America because he says “we.” This increases the effectiveness of his argument by connecting to the audience on a personal level because he is among them, which builds trust. He then honors the astronauts, while highlighting their mission, “The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God." Reagan again uses “we,” to connect himself to the audience as well as highlighting that their mission was to, “touch the face of God.” This increases his agreement because he builds a bond with the audience as well as creates an understanding that their mission was important. This portrays a sense of importance as it shows the audience that more missions need to happen. Therefore overall, his emotional argument was effective for consoling the country and encouraging space exploration. 

Ronald Reagan uses ethos, logos, and pathos effectively to sympathize with the nation and advocate for future space exploration. The loss of the Challenger space shuttle was a tragic event for America. However, Americans learned from it and ultimately came back stronger. Space exploration continues every day, one day we could have people on Mars. 

References

“Reagan's Address to the Nation.” NASA, NASA, 7 June 2004, history.nasa.gov/reagan12886.html. 

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