Freedom- be it from colonial oppression, societal rejection or racism- has historically not come by easily to the people who were denied this freedom. People all over the world struggled tirelessly and fought ceaselessly for this freedom, driven by the hope for a better tomorrow for themselves and their children. History is testimony to many freedom struggles and what is common to all these is the fact that they were all led by charismatic leaders, and their inspirational speeches, which were instrumental in the success of such struggles. As DUB celebrates Independence Day this week, we remember some of the famous speeches which moved people into action or celebrated their ultimate vindication in their respective freedom struggles.
Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech to the Constituent Assembly, on 14th August 1947:
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance…
Martin Luther King Jr’s speech on August 28, 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom:
…When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note…The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people. For many of our white brothers as evidenced by their presence here today have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone…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’…
Nelson Mandela’s Inaugural Address as the President of South Africa on May 10, 1994:
…The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us. We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.
We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity–a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world….Never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.
Let freedom reign.
Declaration of War on Japan – by Franklin D. Roosevelt
December 8th 1941
Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan…It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements of hope for continued peace…Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory…I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again…With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounded determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.