40th Anniversary of D-Day: Rhetorical Analysis

40th Anniversary of D-Day: Rhetorical Analysis

On June 6, 1984 President Ronald Reagan gave the 40th anniversary D-Day speech. This speech took place in France where the battle took place. He gave his speech at the U.S. Ranger Monument at Pointe du Hoc to give respect to the fallen. D-Day was a day that can never be forgotten. It was a day soldiers and allied troops stormed the northern shore beach of France. On this day 225 Rangers came to win this battle and end the war. In Reagan’s speech he gave detail on what had happened that day, how many people fought, but most importantly he honored the soldiers, the veterans that stood before him on that day. The ones who sacrificed everything, so us the American people could have freedom. President Reagan uses logos to tell us the date of this specific event and how many people were fighting, ethos to quote other people to relate what he is talking about, and then he uses pathos when he is speaking to the veterans and honoring them for that day.

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Reagan begins his speech by informing the audience of the four long years in the 1940’s the allied forces had gone through a tough war and had come to liberate most of Europe that had fallen to the Axis powers. Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue, (Vanatter, 2013, para. 2). After all the pain and suffering that Europe was going through, D-Day was the day that will be the answer to their prayers. Reagan (1984) continues to say that, In Normandy the rescue began and how the allies stood and fought against tyranny, (para.1). He then says that on, the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the a British aircraft at dawn and landed in the bottom of the cliffs, (Reagan, 1984, para. 2). He then continues to explain the mission the rangers were trying to accomplish, which included climbing cliffs and to take out enemy guns. He explained the troubles that the Rangers went through on that mission; they were shot at, their ropes were cut down when they traveled to a different site, but the Rangers never gave up and continued their mission. After he stated the troubles of the mission, Reagan (1984) then brings up the devastating news that, out of 225 Rangers only 90 could still bear arms, (para.3). With that he presented the memorial that symbolizes the Ranger dagger that were thrusted into the top of the cliffs, (Reagan, 1984, para.4).  Reagan (1984) then recognizes the men of all the different armed forces of different countries, such as The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland’s 24th Lancers, The Royal Scots Fusiliers, The Screaming Eagles, The Yeomen of England’s Armored Divisions, The Forces of Free France, The Coast Guard’s Matchbox Fleet and you, The American Rangers, (para.10). Reagan then continues to say that in Georgia, churches were filling up at 4 a.m.,  in Kansas people were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.(para.11). Reagan then shares his sorrow with the Russians and he said 20 million perished.(para.16).  Scott Vanatter (2013) says , In the face a soviet union still active in the world, he clearly laid out America’s and the Allies’ purpose in this war (para. 4). Vannatter says this to point that Reagan said everything in a good amount of detail on what happened during the war and that Reagan explained the purpose of this war.


Reagan himself shows ethos because he is the president of the United States and he is the one presenting the speech. George Elder stats since that Reagan is the president saying this speech that the audience is,aware of what happened on D-Day and is not merely reciting some generalized comments, (para.3).  He says, I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war, (Reagan, 1984, para.21). He says this to his audience because he speaks for his country. He is the one that represents the United States and he is speaking  on behalf of his people that we didn’t want any war. Elder talks about british troops who looked up to Bill Millin, They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him, (Reagan, 1984, para. 7).   Reagan (1984) also states that they are, prepared for peace; prepared to deter aggression; prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms; and yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation, (para. 20). He said this because he wants everyone to be prepared of what might come, a war that could happen years in the future. Reagan (1984) also says, we can lesson the risks of war, now and forever, (para. 20). He said this to his audience, and anybody listening, that there is a way to stop wars from happening. They won’t let another war happen from that time or ever, but that if it does happen, then they will finish it off right there and then. He engages his audience to listen to him because he tells them about how hard the men have fought, how much they have sacrificed, how many have past, and so on. He wants everyone to know that the battle has ended because of those men. Towards the end of his speech he says, Today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only on purpose — to protect and defend democracy, (Reagan, 1984, para.18). He gathers the audience by this sentence to understand that the brave men who fought the battle were the ones responsible for stopping the war. Elder states that, a number of memories in the audience as well as enhancing speaker and audience identification, (para.4). He says this because it brings the audience in the speech and the knowledge that is said in Reagan’s speech convinces the audience that this is what really happened.


Throughout Presidents Reagan’s speech, he uses pathos to honor the men who fought in this time period. He speaks to the people on how much these men fought for what was right, for their country. Reagan (1984) reaches out to the men saying, Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here, (para.11). Even though some of these men 40 years ago were just young boys, they went out of their way to do whatever it took to fight for their country. Reagan (1984) asks the men, Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? (para. 11). When he asks these questions, he already knows why they were brave enough to do what they did. Those men were there for a reason, they wanted to climb those cliffs, fight the battle, all to save many people. They were aware something going terribly wrong but, it was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love (Reagan, 1984, para. 11). Those men did what they had to do to stop the invasion from happening. They were aware of what could happen to them, but they did everything in their power to do what was right. Then Reagan (1984) said,  We were with you then; we are with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny, (para. 23). He said this to the veterans because although the war was 40 years ago, they are still with them after the battle, their families, friends, and even strangers were there fighting the battle with them in their hearts.


One of the fallacies that Reagan uses in his speech is sentimental appeal. The reason being is because the whole speech is basically honoring the men that fought on D-Day. He wants his audience to admire them because they have risked so much and fought to the end. In some ways Reagan uses appeal to force because he wants to convince the audience that these men risked a lot 40 years ago and then plus he is the president of the United States. He also uses this type of fallacies because he quotes other people to tie his whole speech together and also to make his point on what he is trying to explain to his audience. 


Reagan wanted this speech to be special since the 40th anniversary of D-Day and to honor the men who fought on this day. He gave a lot of logical facts on certain that happened on this day such as how many men fought, what they did, how many died, and where it was taken place. He convinced his audience that this was a memorable day and that we should honor the men that have fought and he also convinced them by trying to prove his point by quoting other people that are relating on what he is trying to say. He most of was honoring in the men saying that they were the ones that risked their lives that even it wasn’t a force they wanted to do it for their country.

Reference Page(work cited)

  1. Reagan, R. (n.d.). The History Place – Great Speeches Collection: Ronald Reagan Speech on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day. [online] Historyplace.com. Available at:
  2. https://www.historyplace.com/speeches/reagan-d-day.htm [Accessed 29 Nov. 2018].
  3. Vanatter, S. L. (2013, June 6). Ronald Reagan on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, Pointe du Hoc [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.ff.org/ronald-reagan-on-the-40th-anniversary-of-d-day-pointe-du-hoc/
  4. Elder, G. (2018). Analysis of Reagan’s D-Day Speech | “Looking for God”. [online] Ghe101library.com. Available at: https://www.ghe101library.com/non-fiction-articles/analysis-of-reagans-d-day-speech [Accessed 29 Nov. 2018].
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40th Anniversary of D-Day: Rhetorical Analysis. (2019, Aug 16). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from

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