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On April 22, 1971, in Washington, D.C., John Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Senator William Fulbright in reply to legislative hearings on proposals relating to ending the Vietnam War. John Kerry was a former Navy lieutenant in Vietnam. During his duty in the Vietnam War, Kerry was wounded three times and awarded the Purple Heart, Silver and Bronze Star Medals for his heroism. John Kerry joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War after returning to the United States. He stated on the Capitol Hill in front of a committee as a leader and speaker of this organization at the age of twenty-seven. His speech emphasized the necessity of immediate withdrawal of American military in Vietnam. He also insisted the anger and betrayal of the Vietnam War Veterans during the War. Furthermore, he also pointed out that Vietnam was not a threat to the United States. The war was only a Vietnamese civil war instead of part of a global conflict against the Communism. Kerry’s testimony against the war received applause and recognition from the audience in the hall. His appeal also reverberated with President Richard Nixon who ended the draft on January 27, 1973. Kerry effectively used the rhetorical strategies of logos, ethos, and pathos to deliver a compelling speech that persuading the Congress to withdraw American army from the Vietnam War and saved a countless number of lives.
To be influenced, logos was used by John Kerry in various statements throughout his speech. He opposed Vice President Agnew’s definition of war protesters as “the criminal misfits of society,” who betrayed the soldiers in the War; soldiers were “our best men die in Asia…to preserve the freedoms,” Then, he pointed out that “Those he calls misfits were standing up for us in a way that nobody else in this country dared to.” (John F. Kerry, April 1971) John Kerry also demonstrated the fact that “monies from American taxes was used for a corrupt dictatorial regime.” in South Vietnam instead of protecting their allies – American people from “dying in those rice paddies,”. Kerry also established the logical argument that even though many of American soldiers “had to die” (John F. Kerry, April 1971), President Nixon continued the war because he was afraid to be seen as “the first President to lose a war.” Finally, Kerry expressed his belief that the President ought to follow “the will of the people,” and that “the will of the people says that we should be out of Vietnam now.” (John F. Kerry, April 1971)
Throughout his speech, Kerry used his authority to speak on behalf of the members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He consistently expressed in terms of “we”, “our’ and “us” instead of “I” or “me” which reinforced the authority to his testimony as well as supporting his argument. He also explained the purpose that he had to speak out “the fact that the crimes threaten this country, not reds, not redcoats but the crimes which we’re committing are what threaten it, and we have to speak out.” He also expressed the feelings of veterans after coming back from the Vietnam War “men who have returned with a sense of anger and a sense of betrayal.” He then described their anger, “We’re angry because we feel we have been used in the worst fashion by the Administration of this country.” (John F. Kerry, April 1971) Additionally, Kerry endeavored to convince the audiences that Vietnam was not a threat to the United States. The war was merely a Vietnamese civil war instead of part of a global struggle against the Communism, he asserted, “In our opinion, and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam, nothing which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America…We found that not only was it a civil war…but also we found that the Vietnamese were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from.” Ultimately, John F. Kerry established himself as a trusted authority to prove that the war was wrong.
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