Timothy McVeigh single-handedly caused a National crisis when he destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma. The country was covered by a veil of remorse. He saw himself as a hero, defending the constitution, but America saw it differently. After the initial blast workers and volunteers rushed to the aide of those caught in the catastrophe. They did all they could to save as many lives as possible, some had to make the hardest decisions of their lives. When the massive event died down later that week President Clinton had to address the nation. He united the country in grief and remorse by synthesizing his own and the experiences of others. Figure 1. "Clinton's Memorial Speech." Sep 15 2009. Dipity.com Oct 3 2010. HTML.
Right away, President Clinton targets his audience as"... the families of those who have been lost and wounded, to the people of Oklahoma City, who have endured so much, and the people of this wonderful state, to all of you who are here as our fellow Americans." He progressively broadens his intended audience with this statement, and then he finally places us all under one title as Americans. He wanted to begin the speech with the idea that everyone listening was united. Running with the theme of unity Clinton informs the victims that "we mourn with you." This once again shows that America as a whole is sympathizing for one of our own. Multiple times he uses the word "our" as if he was trying to say that this incident is a National crisis and not just something that occurred in Oklahoma. Clinton successfully created a bond between the victims and the rest of the country by stating, "...for we will stand with you for as many tomorrows as it takes." Notice that he once again uses "we" to describe America, creating a more effective sense of unity in the audience.
The President also tries to unify himself into the same category as the rest of his audience. In his second stanza he relates himself and his wife to the situation as "husband and wife, as people who were your neighbors for some of the best years of our lives." He plays on the average joe card, proving that he is also an American feeling the same amount of grief as others. Towards he end of his speech Clinton informs his audience about the tree he planted in memory of the victims and their families. He claimed to have gotten the idea from a child, which has an appeal to the audience. By using the quote that Clinton received in the mail, the effectiveness of the speech was proven by showing that other people who have gone through similar incidents feel for the victims. This story once again put America under one blanket of grief and remorse.
Through his somber tone and medium paced rhetoric, Clinton successfully united the nation behind the victims of the Oklahoma bombing.
Like all national incidents, it is the presidents job to set a realistic goal and then achieve it. In this case, Clinton wanted to show that he felt for the victims of the bombing as an average American. He effectively united the nation in grief and expressed the nations appreciation to all those that gave aide. By using words such as "ours" and "we" Clinton made everyone feel apart of one whole nation to stand behind the bombing victims and their families.
Clinton, William. Oklahoma Bombing Memorial Service Prayer Address. 23 April 1995. American
Rhetoric. 2 Oct 2010.
Ottley, Ted. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols: Oklahoma Bombing. TruTv Crime Library. 2