Monday 30 November 2015

Dr. John Prentiss' "You Don't Own Me!" Speech

In the movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, black physician John Prentiss, meets and falls in love with a young white woman, Katharine Drayton, while on vacation in Hawaii.  They return to the United States where they are invited to dinner at the Drayton's, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, a liberal couple from San Francisco. The doctor's parents, who are also invited, fly in from Los Angeles.  Dr. Prentiss and Joanna drop a bombshell at the dinner table:  they are engaged.

The evening is passed in heated conversation over the pros and cons of a biracial marriage.  Mr. Drayton, a supposed liberal, is not prepared to practise what he preaches when it comes to his own daughter.  Dr. Prentiss' father feels that, because he carried a mail bag for 40 years to support his family, his son owes him something.  His son, however, responds with "You don't own me."  Here is an excerpt from Dr. Prentiss's speech, brilliantly delivered by actor Sidney Poitier:

"You've said what you had to say.  Now listen to me.  You say you don't want to tell me how to live my life?  So what do you think you've been doing?  You tell me what rights I've got or haven't got and what I owe to you for what you've done for me.  Let me tell you something.  I owe you nothing!  If you carried that bag a million miles, you did what you were supposed to do because you brought me into this world and from that day you owed me everything you could ever do for me like I will owe my son if I ever have another.  But you don't own me!  You can't tell me when or where I'm out of line or try to get me to live my life according to your rules.  You don't even know what I am, Dad.  You don't know who I am.  You don't know how I feel, what I think.  And if I tried to explain it for the rest of your life, you will never understand.

You are 30 years older than I am.  You and your whole lousy generation believes that the way it was for you is the way it's got to be.  And not until your whole generation has lain down and died will the dead weight of you be off our backs!  You understand?  You've got to get off my back!

Dad.  Dad.  You're my father.  I am your son.  I love you.  I always have and I always will.  But you think of yourself as a coloured man.  I think of myself as a man.  Hmm?  Now, I've got a decision to make.  And I've got to make it alone.  And I've got to make it in a hurry.  So would you get out there and see after my mother?" (

Sunday 29 November 2015

Tom Joad's "I'll Be There" Speech

"Whenever there's a fight so hungry people can eat.  I'll be there." (Tom Joad)

Okies piled into their Model T's, overloaded with their worldly possessions, and rumbled down a dusty Route 66 to California during the Great Depression, searching for work in the "Promised Land".  Tom Joad, the main character in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, was fed up with begging for food, begging for a job, begging for dignity.  He parts ways with his family, delivering a tear-jerker speech to his mother.

"Well maybe it's like Casy says.  A fella ain't got a soul of his own -- just a little piece of a big soul.  The one big soul that belongs to everybody.  Then it don' matter.  I'll be around in the dark.  I'll be everywhere -- wherever you can look.  Whenever there's a fight so hungry people can eat.  I'll be there.  Whenever there's a cop beatin' up a guy.  I'll be there.  I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad.  I'll be the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready.  And when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise, and livin' in the houses they build.  I'll be there, too."

To listen to the speech from the 1939 movie The Grapes of Wrath, visit

Saturday 28 November 2015

Mr. Keating's "Seize the Day" Speech

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still aflying, and this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying. (Mr. Keats, Dead Poets Society)

English teacher Mr. Keating, played by Robin Williams in the movie Dead Poets Society, gives the following inspirational lecture to his students:

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.  The Latin term for that sentiment is Carpe Diem.  Now who knows what that means?  Carpe Diem.  That's seize the day.  Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.  Why does the writer use these lines?  Because we are food for the worms, lads.  Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.  

Now I would like to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past.  You have walked past them many times.  I don't think you've really looked at them.  They're not very different form you,are they?  Same haircuts, full of hormones, just like you.  Invincible, just like you feel.  The world is your oyster.  They believe they are destined for great things, just like many of you.  Their eyes are full of hope, just like you.  Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable?  Because you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils.  But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you.  Go on.  Lean in.  Listen.  Do you hear it?  [He whispers.] Carpe.  Carpe.  Carpe Diem.  Seize the day, boys.  Make your lives extraordinary."  

Friday 27 November 2015

Jack Lengyel's "We are Marshall" Speech

"This is your opportunity to rise from the ashes and grab glory.  We are Marshall!" (Jack Lengyel)

We Are Marshall is the story of the Thundering Herd football team and the 37 players who were killed in a plane crash in 1970.  The movie talks about the rebuilding of the team and the healing of the community.  Jack Lengyel, played by Matthew McConaughey, gathers the team together in the cemetery where six of the players are buried, and gives them a speech about the teammates they lost and about the game they are about to play.

This is the final resting place of six members of the Thundering Herd.  The plane crash was so severe their bodies were unable to be identified.  So they were buried here together.  Six men, six teammates, six sons of Marshall.  This is our past, gentlemen.  This is where we have been.  This is who we are.  

"Today I want to talk about our opponent.  They're bigger, faster, stronger, more experience.  And on paper, they're just better and they know it too.  But I want to tell you something that they don't know. They don't know your heart.  I do.  I've seen it.  You have shown it to me.  You have shown this coaching staff.  You have shown your teammates.  You have shown yourselves just exactly who you are in here.  When you take that field, today, you've got to lay it hard on the line.  With the souls of your feet, with every ounce of blood in your body.  Lay it on the line.  You can do that.  If you do that, we cannot lose.  We may be behind on the scoreboard at the end of the game, but if you play like that, we cannot be defeated.  

We came here today to remember.  six young men and 69 others who will not be on the filed today, but they will be watching.  You can bet your ass that they'll be gritting their teeth at every snap of that football.  How you play today is how you'll be remembered.  This your opportunity to rise from the ashes and grab glory.  We are Marshall!"

Memorial to Marshall students who died in plane crash at 

Thursday 26 November 2015

Mickey Goldhill's "Get Up...Cause Mickey Loves You" Speech

"Get up you son of a b*ch, get up cause Mickey loves you!" (Mickey Goldhill)

In the original Rocky movie, Rocky's manager is an old crusty fellow named Mickey Goldhill.  He becomes Rocky's mentor, even a father figure for the young boxer.  As Rocky trains for his big fight with Apollo Creed, Mickey gives him a much needed pep talk.  These are his words:

"That Apollo won't know what hit him.  You're going to roll over him like an Italian bulldozer.  You know kid, I know how you fell about this fight...If you wasn't here I probably wouldn't be alive today. The fact that you're here and doing as well as you're doing gives me -- what do you call it -- motivization to stay alive.  Cause i think that people die sometimes when they don't want t o live no more.  Nature's smarter than people think.  Little by little we lose our friends, we lose everything -- keep losing and losing till we say:  What the hell am I living around here?  I've got no reason to go on.  But with you kid, boy I've got a reason to go on.  And I'm going to stay alive.  And I will watch you make good.  And I'll never leave you.  Cause when I leave you, you'll not only know how to fight, you'll be able to take care of yourself outside the ring, too.  Is that okay?"

He gives Rocky a gift, the cuff link given to him by Rocky Marciano.

"It's got to be like an angel sitting on your shoulder.  If you ever get hurt and you feel that you're going down.  This little angel is going to whisper in your ear:  'Get up you son of a b*ch, get up, cause Mickey loves you!'" (

 photo RockyV199003657815-23-43.jpg

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Coach Herman Boone's Remember the Titans Speech

"This green field right here was painted red, bubblin' with the blood of young boys, smoke and hot lead pourin' right through their bodies." (Herman Boone) 

The hour was early.  The sun was had just peaked above the horizon.  The young football players, both black and white, ran behind their coach, unaware of where they were headed.  As they arrived at a cemetery, fog lingered above the headstones.  Why were they here?

The coach broke the silence:

"Anybody know what place this is?  This is Gettysburg.  This is where they fought the Battle of Gettysburg.  Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fightin' the same fight that we're still fightin' amongst ourselves today.

This green field right here was painted red, bubblin' with the blood of young boys, smoke and hot lead pourin' right through their bodies.  Listen to their souls, men:  'I killed my brother with malice in my heart.  Hatred destroyed my family.'

You listen.  And you take a lesson from the dead.  If we don't come together right now, on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed -- just like they were.  I don't care if you like each other or not.  But you will respect each other.  And maybe -- I don't know -- maybe we'll learn to play this game like men."(

The football players, led by Coach Herman Boone, attended T. C. Williams High, a newly integrated Virginia school.  Despite their differences, the football team went on to win a state title.  The football team served as a uniting force for the school.  Their story is portrayed in the movie Remember the Titans, starring Denzel Washington.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

George Bailey's Address to the Board of Directors

"Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community." (George Bailey)  

George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart in the movie It's a Wonderful Life, delivers a speech to Mr. Potter about his deceased father's Buildings and Loan business.  George admits that, while his father was not a good businessman, he had a heart for the downtrodden, something Potter lacks.  This speech is a microcosm for the whole movie.

Here is an excerpt from George Bailey's speech:

"Now hold on, Mr. Potter.  Just a minute now.  Now, you're right when you say my father was no businessman.  I know that.  Why he ever started this cheap penny-ante building and loan, I'll never know.  But neither you nor anybody else can say anything against his character because his whole life was -- Why, in the twenty five years since he and Uncle Billy started this thing, he never once thought of himself.  Isn't that right, Uncle Billy?  He didn't save enough money to send Harry to school, let alone me.  But he did help a few people get outta your slums, Mr. Potter.  And what's wrong with that?  Why -- here, you're all businessmen here.  Don't it make them better citizens?  Doesn't it make them better customers?

You said that they had to wait and save their money before they even thought of a decent home.  Wait?  Wait for what?  Until their children grow up and leave them?  Until they're so old and broken down that -- You know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars?  Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community.  Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?  Anyway, my father didn't think so.  People were human beings to him, but to you, a warped frustrated old man, they're cattle.  Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you'll ever be." (

Monday 23 November 2015

William Lyon Phelps The Pleasure of Books

"If you develop the absolute sense of certainty that powerful beliefs provide, then you can get yourself to accomplish virtually anything, including things that other people are certain are impossible." (William Lyon Phelps)

Yale University's William Lyon Phelps taught the first course about the modern novel.  He penned many books including the Advance of the English Novel.  Professor Phelps was also blessed with the gift of oratory.  In April of 1933, a month before the famous Berlin Book Burnings, he delivered this address, titled "The Pleasure of Books".  

Here is an excerpt from his speech:

"Books are for use, not for show; you should own no book that you are not afraid to mark up, or are afraid to place on the table, wide open and face down.  A good reason for marking favourite passages in books is that this practice enables you to remember more easily the significant sayings, to refer to them quickly, and then in later years, it is like visiting a forest where you once blazed a trail.

Everyone should begin collecting a private library in youth; the instinct of private property, which is fundamental in human beings, can here be cultivated with every advantage and no evils.  One should have one's own bookshelves...The knowledge that they are all there in plain view is both stimulating and refreshing.  You do not have to read them all.  Most of my indoor life is spent in a room containing six thousand books.  And I have a stock answer to the invariable question that comes from strangers:  'Have you read all of these books?'  'Some of them twice.'  This reply is both true and unexpected.

Books are of the people, for the people, by the people.  Literature is the immortal part of history; it is the best and most enduring part of personality.  In a private library, you can at any moment converse with Socrates or Shakespeare or Carlyle or Dumas or Dickens or Shaw or Barrie or Galsworthy.  And therre is no doubt in these books you see these men at their best.  They laid themselves out; they did their ultimate best to entertain you, to make a favourable impression.  You are necessary to them as an audience is to an actor, only instead of seeing them masked, you look into their innermost heart of heart." (

Sunday 22 November 2015

King George VI's Declaration of War Speech

The film The King's Speech made it famous.  It was short and sweet and yet it took its deliverer a lot of inner fortitude to deliver it.  Firstly, he was about to declare war on Germany, probably the biggest decision of his reign.  Secondly, the King had a stutter.  The King's speech therapist had jotted notations in the margin, reminding the King of tips to prevent him from making a mispronunciation. The weight of the world was on his shoulders.  Yet, he delivered the speech with precision and with purpose.  Here is the speech that launched the Second World War:

"In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history, I send to every household of my peoples, both at home and overseas, this message, spoken with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself.  

For the second time in the lives of most of us, we are at war.

Over and over again we have tried to find a peaceful way out of the differences between ourselves and those who are now our enemies; but it has been in vain.  

We have been forced into a conflict, for we are called, with our allies, to meet the challenge of a principle which, if it were to prevail, would be fatal to any civilized order in the world.

It is a principle which permits a state, in the selfish pursuit of power, to disregard its treaties and its solemn pledges, which sanctions the use of force against the sovereignty and independence of other states.

Such a principle, stripped of all disguise, is surely the mere primitive document might is right, and if this principle were established through the world, the freedom of our own country and of the whole British Commonwealth of nations would be in danger.

But far more than this, the peoples of the world would be kept in bondage of fear, and all hopes of settled peace and of security, of justice and liberty, among nations, would be ended.

That is the ultimate issue that confronts us.  For the sake of all we ourselves hold dear, of the world order and peace, it is unthinkable that we should refuse to meet the challenge.

It is to this high purpose that I now call my people at home, and my peoples across the seas, who will make our cause their own.  I ask them to stand calm and firm and united in this time of trial.  

The task will be hard.  There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield, but we can only do the right as we see the right and reverently commit ourselves to God.  If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then with God's help, we shall prevail."

For more information, visit

Saturday 21 November 2015

Charles Morgan Jr.'s Speech That Shocked Birmingham

"A mad, remorseful community asks:  'Who did it?  Who threw that bomb?  Was it a Negro or a white?'  The answer should be:  We all did." (Charles Morgan Jr.)

On September 15, 1963, in the heat of the Civil Rights Movement, a bomb went off at a Birmingham church, killing four young girls attending Sunday School.  The city was in shock.  Who would perform such a heinous crime?  It had only been a couple of weeks since Martin Luther King Jr.'s successful March on Washington.  It seemed like the closer blacks came to achieving their rights, the more racist whites attacked them.  

The day following the bombing, as the police searched the rubble of the church, a young white lawyer named Charles Morgan Jr. stood up before a group of businessmen at the Young Men's Business Club and expressed his outrage at the crime which had taken place.

"Four little girls were killed in Birmingham yesterday.  A mad, remorseful, worried community asks:  'Who did it?  Who threw that bomb?  Was it a Negro or a white?'  The answer should be:  We all did it."

Charles Morgan Jr. was tired of people "getting away with murder".  He was tired of seeing the South, which he deeply loved, be taken over by hatemongers.  He was tired of the "silent acquiescence of good people who saw wrong but didn't try to right it."  

"The 'who' is every individual who talks about the 'niggers' and spreads the seeds of his hate to his neighbour and his son...The who is every governor who ever shouted for lawlessness and became a law violator.  It is every Senator and representative who in the halls of Congress stands and with mock humility tells everybody that things back home aren't really like they are.  It is courts that move every so slowly and newspapers that timorously defend the law."

Charles Morgan Jr. attended the University of Alabama where he studied law.  He was at the centre of the storm living in Alabama in the 1950's and 1960's.  He was active in state politics.

"Yesterday, when Birmingham , which prides itself of the number of churches, was attending worship services, a bomb went off and an all white police force moved into action, a police force which has been praised by city officials at least once a day for a month or so.  A police force which has solved no bombings.  A police force which many Negroes feel is perpetuating the very evils we decry."

Charles Morgan Jr. suffered for his remarks.  The phone calls started immediately, threatening his wife and son.  One caller described every place his family had been in the space of a day.  The threats became so real that Charles was forced to flee the state.  Here are his final remarks:

"Those four little Negro girls were human beings.  They had lived their fourteen years in a leaderless city:  a city where no one accepts responsibility, where everybody wants to blame someone else."

Note:  For more information about the Birmingham Church Bombing, visit

Friday 20 November 2015

Kathleen Blanco's Address to the Louisiana State Legislature

"I want the world to know what I know:  We are brave.  We are resilient.  We will prevail." 
(Kathleen Blanco)

In the days, weeks and months after Hurricane Katrina, the nation was in a state of shock.  Over 1800 people died in the Category 5 storm which pounded New Orleans on August 29, 2005.  The Louisiana government scrambled to gather resources to aid the victims of the tragedy.  FEMA trailers were temporarily set up to house more than a million displaced persons.  Wards had to be drained.  Levees had to be reconstructed.  Roads had to be rebuilt.  Governor Kathleen Blanco, a somber look on her face, stood before the Louisiana Legislature on September 14 with this message:

"Nearly two weeks ago, Katrina tore across Southeast Louisiana leaving a path of physical destruction and human tragedy unprecedented in our nation's history.  Tonight, foremost in our thoughts are the families who were literally ripped apart by the storm.  Over the past few days, I have met brothers separated from sisters, mothers and fathers searching for children, and children who have seen things no child should have to witness.

As a mother, a sister and a daughter, my heart goes out to every family.  And we all know that family stretches beyond blood to embrace the neighbourhoods and communities that form the fabric of our lives.

...I must offer thanks on behalf of a grateful state.  When I called on the people of Louisiana to respond they rallied in overwhelming numbers.  First responders and ordinary citizens put aside concerns for their own safety and demonstrated a heroic courage...They were joined by an unprecedented brigade of ordinary citizens who drove a fleet of school buses we commandeered , and they steered hundreds of private boats down flooded streets and toiled without pause to rescue at least 70,000 people...I want the world to know that:  We are brave.  We are resilient.  We will prevail.  

...To anyone who even suggests that this great city should not be rebuilt, hear this and hear it well:  We will rebuild.  Americans rebuilt Washington after the British burned it to the ground.  We rebuilt Chicago after the Great Fire.  We rebuilt San Francisco after the earthquake.  And we are rebuilding New York City after 9/11.  We will rebuild New Orleans and the surrounding parishes, because that is what Americans do."  

Dear God, please bless the people of the state of Louisiana, and bring all of our sons and daughters safely home. (

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina circa 2005 courtesy

Thursday 19 November 2015

Nellie McClung's Should Men Vote?

"Man's place is to provide for his family, a hard enough task in these strenuous days." 
(Nellie McClung)

During the first half of the 1800's, alcoholism was rampant in North America, explained in W. J. Rorabaugh's book The Alcoholic Republic:  An American Tradition.  Men filled the taverns and brothels and lost their jobs due to alcoholism.  The women were left to pick up the pieces, to hold the family together.  In 1873 (Canada followed in 1874), the Women Christian Temperance Union formed to combat the use of alcohol.  Although the movement was the largest women's movement in North America, women still did not have enough political power as they did not have the right to vote.  A natural linking of the temperance movement and the suffrage movement was the result.  

Nellie McClung, born in Ontario and living in Manitoba at the time, campaigned for both Prohibition and Women's Suffrage.  AT the time, politicians claimed that a women's place was in the home, not in Parliament.  Nellie turned the tables on this opinion with her speech delivered at the Horticultural gardens in Toronto in 1896, supported by both the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Women's Enfranchisement Association.  Titled "Should Men Vote?", the speech was delivered as part of a Mock Parliament.  Filled with humour, it delighted the audience.  One member suggested an act to prevent men from wearing long stockings, knickerbockers and roundabout coats when bicycling".  Afterwards, guests promenaded around the plants of the Gardens, abuzz with Mrs. McClung's remarks.  The speech marked a turning point in the suffrage movement.  

Here is an excerpt from Nellie's speech:

"But my dear friends, I'm convinced you do not know what you are asking me to do; you do not know what you ask.  You have not thought of it, of course, with the natural thoughtlessness of your sex.  You ask for something which may disrupt the whole course of civilization.  Man's place is to provide for his family a hard enough task in these strenuous days.  We hear of women leaving home, and we hear it with deepest sorrow.  Do you know why women leave home?  There is a reason.  Home is not made sufficiently attractive.  Would letting politics enter the home help matters?  Ah, no!  Politics would unsettle our men.  Unsettled men mean unsettled bills -- unsettled bills mean broken homes -- broken vows -- and then divorce." (

Toronto's Horticultural Gardens courtesy 

Wednesday 18 November 2015

J. K. Rowling's Harvard Commencement Address

"...I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea." (J. K. Rowling)

On a Spring Day in 2008, J. K. Rowling delivered the commencement address at Harvard University. Her two themes were the fringe benefits of failure and an imagination.  She talked about how her parents, who shared an impoverished background, wanted her to get a "real job".  However, all she ever wanted to do was write stories.  While she wanted to study English Literature, they wanted her to study a more lucrative subject:  they settled on Modern Languages.  However, J. K. immediately switched to the Classics.  

J. K. said she didn't fault her parents for not wanting her to live in poverty.  As she explained;

"I cannot fault my parents for hoping that I would never live in poverty.  They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience.  Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships.  Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticized only by fools."

J. K. went on to point out that she suffered a failed marriage and ended up unemployed with a young child to raise.  She felt like the biggest failure.  However, ironically, out of her failure came her success.  She was more determined than ever to prove that she could make a success of her writing.  

"So why do I talk about the benefits of failure?  Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential.  I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.  Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.  I was set free because my biggest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea." 

J.K. went on to talk about her other point, the importance of having an imagination.  Of course, her imagination contributed immensely to the writing of the Harry Potter series.  However, having an imagination is important not only for a writer, but also for all human beings.  It gives of a greater gift:  empathy.  

"Now you might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so.  Though I will personally defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation.  In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared."

Note:  To find out how the Harry Potter series came into being, visit


Tuesday 17 November 2015

Pope John Paul II's Speech at Israel's Holocaust Memorial

Pope John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Israel in March of 2000 to pay tribute to the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust from 1938 to 1945.  At Yad Vashem, he laid a wreath and lit a flame in memory of the victims.  Pope John Paul II was a seminary student in Poland when the Hitler's Wehrmacht was invading country after country, rounding up Jews and throwing them in concentration camps.  Fifty survivors, including thirteen who were from the Pope's hometown of Wadowice, Poland, were present at the memorial ceremony.  Sadly, Pope John Paul II did not go so far as to apologize on behalf of Pope Pius XII (and the Vatican) who did not speak out against the Holocaust, even though he knew about the death camps.  Here is an excerpt from Pope John Paul II's speech:

"The words of the ancient Psalm, rise from our hearts:  "I have been like a broken vessel.  I hear the whispering of many -- terror on every side -- as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.  But I trust in you, O Lord:  I say, you are my God. (Psalm 31:13-15)

In this place of memories, the mind and heart and soul feel an extreme need for silence.  Silence in which to remember.  Silence in which to try to make some sense of the memories which come flooding back.  Silence because there are no words strong enough to deplore the terrible tragedy of the Shoah.  

My own personal memories are of all that happened when the Nazis occupied Poland during the war.  I remember my Jewish friends, some of whom perished, while others survived.  I have come to Yad Vashem to pay homage to the millions of Jewish people who, stripped of everything, especially of human dignity, were murdered in the Holocaust.  More than half a century has passed, but the memories remain.  

Here, as at Auschwitz, and many other places in Europe, we are overcome by the echo of the heart rending laments of so many.  Men, women and children, cry out to the depths of the horror that they knew.  How can we fail to heed their cry?  No one can ignore or forget what happened.  No one can diminish its scale.  

We wish to remember.  But we wish to remember for a purpose, namely to ensure that never again will evil prevail, as it did for millions of victims of Naziism.  

How could man have such utter contempt for man?  Because he had reached the point of utter contempt for God.  Only a godless ideology could plan and carry out the extermination of a whole people.  

The world must heed the warning that comes to us from the victims of the Holocaust, and from the testimony of the survivors.  Here at Yad Vashem the memory lives on and burns itself into our souls.  It makes us cry out:  "I hear the whispering of many -- terror on every side -- but I trust in you, O Lord, I say:  You are my God."

Monday 16 November 2015

Dwight D. Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace

President Dwight D. Eisenhower stood before the United Nations Assembly on December 8, 1953 to deliver an important message:  the atomic bomb, which had first been detonated by the United States in 1945, was no longer an American secret.  Canada and the United Kingdom both knew the secret.  Even the Soviet Union now knew the secret.  In fact, the United States and the Soviet Union were starting to stockpile their atomic weapons at an alarming rate.  In the space of only eight years, atomic energy had gone from a limited to an unlimited quantity.  The two countries had the capability of wiping each other off the face of the earth.  President Eisenhower pleaded with the nations represented at the United Nations to think about ways to cut back on their atomic weapons; to think about constructive ways to use atomic energy.  President Eisenhower goes on to mention the problems the world faces:  a divided Germany and a divided Korea.  He calls for a "free intermingling" between East and West in Europe.  He calls also for a rapprochement between the United States and the Soviet Union.  Here is an excerpt from President Eisenhower's speech:

"On July 16, 1945, the united States set off the world's first atomic explosion.  Since that date in 1945, the United States of America has conducted forty two test explosions.  Atomic bombs today are more than twenty five times as powerful as the weapons with which the atomic age dawned, while hydrogen weapons are in the ranges of millions of tons of TNT equivalent.  Today, the United States stockpile of atomic weapons, which of course increases daily, exceeds by many times the total equivalent of the total of all bombs and all shells that came from every plane in every theatre of war in the all the years of World War II.

The United States would be more than willing -- it would be proud to take up with others principally involved the development of plans whereby such peaceful use of atomic energy would be expedited.

The coming months will be fraught with fateful decisions.  In this Assembly, in the capitals and military headquarters of the world, in the hearts of men everywhere, be they governed or governors, may they be the decisions which will lead this world out of fear and into peace." (

Sunday 15 November 2015

William Faulkner's Banquet Speech

William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 for "his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel."  He was the only Mississippi born writer to receive the prize.  He wrote The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, Absalom! Absalom! and A Rose for Emily.  

Here is an excerpt from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

"Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it.  There are no longer problems of the spirit.  There is only the question:  When will I be blown up?  Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

I refuse to accept this.  I believe that man will not merely endure:  he will prevail.  He is immortal, not because he along among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.  The poet's, the writer's duty is to write about these things.  It is his privilege to help man endure these things.  It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.  The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail."

Carl Van Vechten - William Faulkner.jpg

Saturday 14 November 2015

Elizabeth Gilbert's Your Elusive Creative Genius

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, delivered a speech about how a creative genius resides in all of us; we just have to tap into it.  After the success of her memoir, people approached her and asked if she was worried about topping the success she had just experienced.  However, Elizabeth pointed out that, over twenty years before, people had the same reaction when she first announced that she wanted to become a writer.

Elizabeth goes on to mention how writers, and creative people in general, tend to be tortured souls who suffer from depression (Ernest Hemingway committed suicide; Norman Mailer was a raging alcoholic; Stephen King was addicted to drugs).  A writer's career is tied directly to his or her creative success.  Something like writer's block can spell the end of a literary career.

The author mentions how the Romans and the Greeks believed that creativity came from a separate spirit, something the Greeks called a "daemon", that lived in an artist's studio.  However, during the Renaissance, people started to believe that genius came from the self, rather than from a separate entity.  Elizabeth believes that such a belief puts too much of a burden on the shoulders of the artist.  "[I think] the pressure of that has been killing off our artists fort he past 500 years," she explains.

Elizabeth gives the example of poet Ruth Stone who used to work in the fields of rural Virginia.  All of a sudden, she would fell a poem coming on:  "it was like a thunderous train of air".  She would race to the farmhouse for a piece of paper and a pen before she forgot the poem, furiously scribbling the words down from end to beginning, the way she had remembered it.  Elizabeth says that is how the creative process works for her as well.  It is elusive:  she must catch it when it's whizzing by.
Elizabeth compares herself to a mule:  she must sweat and labour every day to get to her destination. The road is not easy.  It is full of bumps and twists.  But her stubbornness allows her to persevere.

Elizabeth drives home her point with the following paragraph:

And what I have to sort of keep telling myself when I get really psyched out about that {duplicating her initial success] is don't be afraid.  Don't be daunted.  Just do your job.  Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that may be.  If your job is to dance, do your dance.  If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed for just one moment through your efforts, then Ole! And if not, do your dance anyhow.  And Ole! to you nonetheless.I believe this and I feel that we must teach it.  Ole! to you, nonetheless, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.(

Friday 13 November 2015

Sir Winston Churchill's Blood, Toil, Tears & Sweat

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." (Sir Winston Churchill)

Sir Winston Churchill stood up in the House of Commons and delivered this famous speech on May 13, 1940.  Nazi Germany was goosestepping its way across Europe.  Only three days had passed since the Nazis had invaded Holland.  They had also invaded France and were only weeks away from a takeover of Paris.  Britain was getting nervous.  Would it be next?  

After the appeasement policy of Neville Chamberlain, Britain needed a strong leader.  Churchill was the man for the job.  He had fought on the battlefield in the first World War.  He knew what it was like to get his hands dirty.  He brooked no opposition.  When he stood up and delivered his speech, he rallied the troops, the country and the cause.  Here is an excerpt from his address:

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.  We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind.  We have before us many long months of struggle and of suffering.  You ask, what is our policy?  I will say, it is to wage war by sea, land and air, with all of our might and with all the strength God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny; never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of crime.  That is our policy.  You ask, what is our aim?  I can answer in one word:  victory; victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road might be; for without victory, there is no survival.  Let that be realized; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal.  But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope.  I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men.  I this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all and I say:  Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength. (

Thursday 12 November 2015

Elie Wiesel's The Perils of Indifference

The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. (Elie Wiesel)

Elie Wiesel was a Romanian Jew who survived imprisonment in Auschwitz and Buchenwald during the Second World War, documented in his book Night.  Like many imprisoned Jews, Elie assumed that the powers that be did not know about the Nazi death camps.  After all, if they did, they would do something to stop the mass killings.

However, Elie eventually discovered that the United States State Department knew about the Nazi death camps; the Pentagon knew, as did President Roosevelt.  In fact, in 1939, when the ship the S.S. St. Louis arrived on the shores of the United States filled with 1000 Jewish refugees requesting asylum, President Roosevelt said no (see

Why did the Americans (and Canadians in the case of the SS St. Louis) show such indifference to the Jewish condition.  Elie said that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.  Such an attitude is dangerous.  "In a way, to be indifferent to suffering is what makes the human being inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred.  Anger can at times be creative.  One writes a great poem, a great symphony.  One does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses.  But indifference is never creative."

The Americans, and the rest of the Allies, finally acted when they invaded the Nazi occupied countries and started liberating the Nazi death camps.  There was no indifference in their eyes when they saw the skeletons piled high.  Elie remembers the soldiers rage at what they saw.  He remembers the gratitude that he felt upon his liberation.  Here is an excerpt from the speech he delivered to President Clinton and some dignitaries in Washington DC in 1999:

Fifty four years ago to the day, a young Jewish boy from a small town in the Carpathian Mountains woke up, not far from Goethes beloved Weimar, in a place of eternal infamy called Buchenwald.  He was finally free, but there was no joy in his heart.  He thought there never would be again.  Liberated a day earlier by American soldiers, he remembers their rage at what they saw.  And even if he lives to be a very old man, he will always be grateful to them for that rage, and also for their compassion. Though he did not understand their language, their eyes told him what he needed to know -- that they too would remember and bear witness.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

George Marshall's The Marshall Plan

For many Europeans, especially Germans, World War II did not end on V-E Day.  It marked the beginning of a decade long struggle:  struggle to overcome diseases like typhus which ran rampant in the closing days of the war, struggle to accept the displacement faced by the changing borders, struggle to overcome the worry they felt waiting for their POWs to come home from the Soviet Union, struggle to rebuild their cities which were covered in rubble and struggle to feed their population as their dollar plunged.

The United States, knowing that Germany was facing certain disaster, planned to intervene.  George Marshall, the Secretary of State, met with several representatives to draft a plant to rebuild Western Europe.  Congress agreed to give $13 billion in aid, the equivalent of $130 billion today, towards the Marshall Plan.  The Plan would be carried out over four years, from 1947 to 1951.  Eighteen European countries would benefit from the aid, including the United Kingdom (26%), France (18%) and West Germany (11%).

Here is an excerpt from George Marshall's speech of June 5, 1947:

"In considering the requirements for the rehabilitation of Europe, the physical loss of life, the visible destruction of cities, factories, mines and railroads, was correctly estimated, but it has become obvious during recent months that this visible destruction was probably less serious than the dislocation of the entire fabric of the European economy...Such assistance must not be on a piecemeal basis, as various crises develop.  Any assistance that the government may render in the future should provide a cure rather than a mere palliative."

"We want coal, we want bread" reads the sign as thousands protest during the Hunger Winter of 1947-1948 in Germany courtesy,_Krefeld,_Hungerwinter,_Demonstration.jpg.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Franklin D. Roosevelt's The Great Arsenal of Democracy

"No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it." (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

By December of 1940, when the world was at war, President Roosevelt had already delivered dozens of fireside chats.  This speech however was different.  He talked about a world crisis and how the United States would have to be courageous and realistic.  He talked about the alliance of the Soviet Union, Germany and Japan.  He reminded the American people that they could not bury their heads in the sand.  The president pointed out that a hundred years before, the Monroe Doctrine had been drafted in response to another European alliance that threatened the existence of the United States.

"Let us not blind ourselves to the fact that the very forces which have crushed, undermined and corrupted so many others are already within our gates."  The President pointed out that some thought the United States was safe even if Britain fell.  However, the Atlantic Ocean was no longer the obstacle it once was.  Planes could fly from the British Isles to New England and back without refueling.  

President Roosevelt condemned Nazi Germany for its tyranny over Europe.  He said that a dictatorship like Germany could not reconcile itself with a democracy.  He called on America:  "We must be the great arsenal of democracy."  Here is an excerpt from President Roosevelt's speech:

"The experience of the past two years has proven beyond doubt that no nation can appease the Nazis.  No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it.  There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness.  There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb.  We know now that a nation can have peace with the Nazis only at the price of total surrender.  Even the people of Italy have been forced to become accomplices of the Nazis; but at this moment they do not know how soon they will be embraced to death by their allies."  

President Roosevelt's words were prophetic.  On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese and the United States finally entered the Second World War.  In October of 1943, Italy was "embraced to death" by Germany and switched sides in the war.

Monday 9 November 2015

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream

"With a single phrase, Martin Luther King Jr. joined Jefferson and Lincoln in the ranks of men who've shaped America." (John Meacham)

It was a defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Monument and delivered a "masterpiece of rhetoric", calling on America to make good on its promise laid out in the Emancipation Proclamation 100 years before.  Dr. King said that America had given the Negro people "a bad check" and now it was time to "cash that check".  He punctuated his speech with the words "I have a dream", repeating them over and over for effect.

You would think that such an eloquent discourse would have been practised weeks or even months in advance.  However, a mere twelve hours before its delivery, Dr. King was not sure what he would say.  His focus had been on the planning on the March for Jobs and Freedom, not on the speech. While he had brought a prepared speech for the occasion, it was the black singer Mahalia Jackson who really got him stirred up with her comment:  "Tell the about the dream, Martin!" spurring him to depart from his script and deliver the most moving part of his speech.  

Dr. King quoted from the Bible and from Shakepeare's Richard III.  He mentioned the "sweltering summer of the Negro's discontent" which he hoped would be followed by "an invigorating autumn". His words rang true:  that fall, president Kennedy signed the Civil Rights Act, which put the ball in motion to free the blacks from oppression. 

Here is an excerpt from Dr. King's speech:

"I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
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."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

Sunday 8 November 2015

Ronald Reagan's Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate

After the Second World War ended, Germany was divided into East and West Germany.  The city of Berlin was divided down the centre by a wall, to mark the communist East, and the democratic West. Six million Berliners escaped from East to West before the Berlin Wall was built.  The entire continent of Europe was divided by a figurative Iron Curtain; land to the east of the curtain was controlled by the communist Soviet Union while land to the west was democratic.

North American leaders, particularly American leaders, spoke out against the Berlin Wall.  President Kennedy visited the city in 1963 shouting "Ich bin ein Berliner".  President Reagan visited Berlin in 1987.  His speech, punctuated with the words "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!", left its mark. Only two and a half years later, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down (see

Here is an excerpt from his speech:

"We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.  There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.  General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate.  Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate.  Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" (

ronald reagan speech 1987 berlin wall brandenburg gate

Saturday 7 November 2015

John F. Kennedy's The Decision to Go to the Moon

Millions of Americans craned their necks to see the Soviet satellite Sputnik race across the ink black sky in October of 1957, marking the start of the space race.  Many more heard about the first Russian's space flight in April of 1961.  Premier Krushchev, with the accomplishment, boasted that socialism had conquered democracy.  However, on May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech announcing that the United States would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, a feat that seemed next to impossible at the time.  On July 20, 1969, with Neil Armstrong's words "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," Kennedy's promise came true.

Here is an excerpt from Kennedy's historic speech:

But why some say the moon?  Why choose this as a goal?  And they may ask why climb the highest mountain?  Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?  Why does Rice play Texas?  We choose to go to the moon.  We choose to go to the moon in this decade and to do 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.

john f kennedy moon announcement speech 1961

Friday 6 November 2015

Chief Joseph's Surrender Speech

Route of Chief Joseph and Nez Perce tribe courtesy

After a fierce battle between the Indians and the Whites, where the Indians had incurred many fatalities, Chief Joseph was tired of fighting.  The American government gave the Chief and his Nez Perce tribe the ultimatum:  move onto the reserve or face retribution.  Chief Joseph, desiring peace, agreed.  However, some of his tribesmen didn't agree and killed four white men.  Facing a backlash, Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce tribe travelled 1700 miles seeking amnesty in Canada, with the American Army at their heals.  About 40 miles from the Canadian border, on October 5, 1877, Chief Joseph was outrun by the Army at Bear Paw Mountains in Montana Territory.  There, knowing he was a dying breed, he gave his surrender speech:

"Tell General Howard I know his heart.  What he told me before, I have it in my heart.  I am tired of fighting.  Our chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead; Ta Hool Hool Shute is dead.  The old men are all dead.  He who led on the young men is dead.  It is cold; and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death.  My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food.  No one knows where they are; perhaps freezing to death.  I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find.  Maybe I shall find them among the dead.  Hear me, my Chiefs!  I am tired; my heart is sick and sad.  From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever." (

chief joseph nez perce portrait native american

Thursday 5 November 2015

Charles DeGaulle's "Appeal of 18 June"

In June of 1940, the Paris streets were filled with people fleeing the city by car, by train, by bus or by bicycle, including authors H. A. and Margret Rey (  The Nazis were at the gates of the City of Light, ready to crush any resisters.  Prime Minister Paul Reynaud resigned, essentially giving up the fight.  Disappointed, General Charles DeGaulle refused to give up on his city and his country.  Leader of the Free French Forces, he fled to England on the 15th of the month where he delivered a passionate speech on the BBC radio.  

"But has the last word been said?  Must hope disappear?  Is defeat final?  No!  Believe me, I am speaking to you with full knowledge of the facts and who can tell you that nothing is lost for France.  The same means that overcame us can bring us victory one day.  For France is not alone!  She is not alone!  She has a vast Empire behind her.  She can align with the British Empire that holds the sea and continues to fight.  She can, like England, use without limit the immense industry of the United States." (

The Free Forces, operating out of England, gradually took over colonial outposts in Africa (l'Armee d'Afrique).  They joined forces with the French Free Forces to form L'Armee Francaise de la liberation.  Multiplying to 400,000 strong by D-Day in 1944, they participated in the Normandy landings and the invasion of Southern France, culminating with the liberation of Paris.  Charles DeGaulle, who had inspired the movement, headed up the new post war government. (

Crowd members hold up sign saying "Vive de Gaulle" on Liberation Day in August of 1944 courtesy

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Lou Gehrig's Farewell to Baseball

"He was a symbol of indestructibility -- a Gibraltar in cleats." (Jim Murray)

Sixty thousand fans gathered at Yankee Stadium on a steamy day in July of 1939.  Mayor LaGuardia was there.  So too was Babe Ruth.  The fans, all waiting to hear what the man at the microphone was about to say, chanted:  "We want Lou!  We want Lou!"  He stood at home plate, wiping the tears from his eyes, hesitant.  The coach patted his shoulder and whispered something in his ear.  In a heavy New York accent, the Yankee first baseman started his speech.  "The clangy iron echo of Yankee Stadium picked up the sentence that poured from the loudspeakers and hurled it forth to the world:  'I am the luckiest man on earth...'" (

Thirty six year old Lou Gehrig had just been diagnosed with ALS, a disease that would cut his life short by decades.  Yet, here was baseball's superstar announcing to the world that he was "the luckiest man on earth".   Rather than focussing on his disease, he was counting his blessings:  the 2130 consecutive games he had played in his professional baseball career, the 147 RBI average, 
and the 15 stolen bases.  "He was a symbol of indestructibility -- a Gibraltar in cleats." (

Lou Gehrig was born and raised in New York City.  He used to swim across the Hudson River to New Jersey, although he never strayed far from his roots.  He was a self proclaimed momma's boy.  It was only his future wife, Eleanor, who was able to cut the apron strings.  By all accounts he was a good husband and father.  

Lou Gehrig's fans thought he would play baseball forever.  He was "the emblem of the Yankees", clinching six World Series titles during his career.  Yet, on that day in 1939, he stood before the microphone, and announced to the world that he was retiring from the game.  He explained that "he had so much to live for", intending on fighting the dreaded disease.  However, in 1941, he succumbed to ALS, now called Lou Gehrig's Disease.  

1.  For more information, read Luckiest Man by Jonathan Eig.  
2.  To read "Baseball's Gettysburg Address", visit

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Herb Brooks' Miracle on Ice Speech

"You were born to be hockey players -- every one of you, and you were meant to be here tonight." (Herb Brooks)

The Soviets had dominated men's Olympic hockey for decades, winning gold every every time from 1956 to 1976 except for once.  Now, they were facing the underdog Americans, made up of nothing but amateurs, fully expecting to defeat them.  Sports columnist Dave Anderson wrote:  "Unless the ice melts or unless the United States team or another team performs a miracle, as did the American squad in 1960, the Russians are expected to easily win the Olympic gold medal for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments."

But you couldn't rule out the fact that the Americans were playing on home ice.  More importantly, there was something different about this team, a completely revamped squad with only one player from the 1976 Olympics.   Coach Herb Brooks sensed this, reflected in his pre-game speech:

"Great moments are born from great opportunity, and that's what you have here tonight, boys.  That's what you've earned here tonight.  One game:  if we play them ten times, they might win nine.  But not this game, not tonight.  Tonight, we skate with them.  Tonight, we stay with them and we shut them down because we can.  Tonight we are the greatest hockey team in the world.  You were born to be hockey players -- every one of you, and you were meant to be here tonight.  This is your time.  Their time is done.  It's over.  I'm sick and tired of hearing what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em.  This is your time.  Now go out there and take it."

Monday 2 November 2015

Phil Esposito's Rant at 1972 Summit Series

Everyone of us guys, thirty five guys, who came out to play for Team Canada, we did it because we love our country and not for any other reason. (Phil Esposito)

Canada had just taken a beating by the Soviets in Game 4 of the 1972 Series.  The stadium was filled with boos as Phil Esposito and his teammates exited the ice.  Esposito, discouraged by the loss, delivered a speech that rallied his team, proving to be the turning point in the series.  The following game, held in Moscow, Canada came out fighting and never looked back.  Here is an excerpt from the speech, caught on microphone by reporter Johnny Esaw:

"For the people across Canada, we tried.  We gave it our best.  For the people who booed us, all of us guys are really disheartened and we're disillusioned and we're disappointed in some of the people.  We cannot believe the bad press we've got, the booing we've gotten in our own buildings.  If the Russian fans boo their players like some of the Canadian fans -- I'm not saying all of them -- some of them booed us, then I'll come back and apologize to each and every Canadian.  But I don't think they will.  I'm really, really.  I'm really, really disappointed.  I am completely disappointed.  I cannot believe it.  Some of our guys are really down in the dumps.  We know -- we're trying.  What the hell -- we're doing the best we can.  They've got a good team and let's face facts.  But it doesn't mean we're not giving it our 150 per cent because we certainly are...

Everyone of us guys, thirty five guys, who came out to play for Team Canada, we did it because we love our country and not for any other reason.  They can throw the money for the pension fund out the window.  They can throw anything they want out the window -- we came because we love Canada.  And even though we play in the United States and we earn money in the United States, Canada is still our home and that's the only reason we come.  And I don't think it's fair that we should be booed."

Sunday 1 November 2015

President Barack Obama's "This is Your Victory"

Two hundred and forty thousand people assembled in Chicago's Grant Park to hear Barack Obama deliver his victory speech after the 2008 election.  He would not be the first president to hail from Chicago (Lincoln preceded him), he would not be the first youthful president (remember JFK?) but he would be America's first black President.  Here is an excerpt from the brilliant speech that he delivered on that fateful night:

"This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations.  But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta.  She's a lot like millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing:  Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.  

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.  

And tonight I think about all she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't; and the people that pressed on with that American creed:  Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot.  Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose.  Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved.  Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome.  Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.  

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far.  We have seen so much.  But there is so much more to do.  So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see?  What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call.  This is our moment."