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Ronald Reagan: Challenger Speech

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On January 28, 1986, a day that was supposed to be filled with excitement and exploration, suddenly turned into a day filled with tragedy and sadness. The space shuttle Challenger was supposed to carry a seven member crew into orbit with one unique member along for this particular mission. Christa McAuliffe was supposed to be the first teacher to go into space as a member of the Teacher in Space Project. Due to this occasion, the media coverage and the number of viewers of this mission was extensive, particularly in schools across the nation. The Challenger lifted off shortly after 11:30 A.M., but tragically only seventy three seconds after takeoff it exploded sending debris and the seven crew members back to earth and into the Atlantic Ocean. All seven crew members aboard were killed in the crash as America helplessly watched. A faulty O-ring in the right solid rocket booster was said to have been the cause of the crash. Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, was in office at the time of this tragic event. President Reagan was scheduled to deliver his State of the Union Address that same evening. His intentions were to mention the Challenger and the significance of that particular mission during his speech. This would not be the case following the events of that day.
President Reagan did not give his State of Union speech that evening, but decided instead to address the nation on that day’s unfortunate events. He acknowledged the bravery of each member of the crew. He named each person who was killed on the space shuttle and also addressed their families extending his sympathy and gratitude. And went on to point out that though the crew members were aware of the dangers they met the challenge with courage and ...


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...er’s crew would not be in vain. Reagan chose not to use a teleprompter during his speech even though it was available at the time. Knowing this shows me that he wanted to address the American people on a more personal level. Even though he did have a manuscript I did not notice him look at it once. I felt his speech was truly heart felt and that he was very sincere in what was being said. He had great eye contact with the camera and you could see in his facial expressions that he was too deeply upset by the loss we as a nation endured. He succeeded in calming the nation, extending condolences all while effectively delivering a reassuring speech.



Works Cited

n.a. American Rhetoric. n.d. 26 October 2011 .
n.a. Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. n.d. 30 October 2011 .



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