There's no better way to become inspired this July 4th weekend than through the words of some of this nation's greatest leaders.
Randy E. King, the President/CEO of several performance companies and an adviser to many fortune 500 companies, has produced an interactive multi-language website for young Americans to understand our national heritage.
It includes a list of the Top 10 Most Patriotic Speeches, most of which were given in the 20th century. To make the list, it had to achieve a certain criteria, including: Lifting hearts in dark times, Giving hope in despair, refining the characters of men, inspiring brave feats, giving courage to the weary, honoring the dead and, most importantly, changing the course of history.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur's "Duty, Honor, Country" speech is No. 10.
"Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed; that the very obsession of your public service must be: Duty, Honor, Country," he told a West Point audience in 1962.
Number 9 is Franklin Delano Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address in 1933. In the speech, used to rally a nation in the throes of the Great Depression, he said: "This great Nation will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper."
Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor address on December 8, 1941, which declared war on Japan, launching the nation into World War 2, is No. 3.
Ronald Reagan, known as The Great Communicator, has two spots in the Top 10. His Farewell Address to the Nation in 1989 is No. 8.
"Once you begin a great movement, there's no telling where it will end. We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world," Reagan said.
Reagan was an integral part in ending the Cold War with the Soviet Union and his remarks at the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987, rank No. 6. The memorable line in that speech is, "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev – Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
Ranked No. 7 is George Washington's Farewell Address in 1783 while fellow Patriot Patrick Henry's passionate "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech of 1775, ranks No. 5.
No. 4 is John Kennedy's speech that propelled America's space program.
"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too," he said in 1961.
No. 2 is Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, given to consecrate the site of the Civil War's most pivotal battle.
And No. 1 is the "I Have a Dream" speech of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,'" he told the crowd of over 100,000 during the Civil Rights march in Washington on August 23, 1963.
In his website message, Randy King says that if you study and truly understand how and why these famous Americans said what they said and when they said it, you will begin to understand what American patriotism, effective communication and leadership are all about. And these three concepts, he says, will lead you to a very successful and fulfilled life.
By Jim Zbick