By Lisa Curry
Back in the mid- to late ’80s, I watched President Ronald Reagan deliver a speech on TV. I don’t remember what he talked about, but I do remember that whatever he said moved me to tears.
I was blown away. All I could think, as I sniffled and wiped my eyes, was that if he could make me – a Democrat who didn’t vote for him and couldn’t stand him – all weepy, he must have one hell of speechwriter. And what a fine thing it would be to write words as powerful as that – words that could motivate, inspire, and move the unwilling to tears.
So for a time, I toyed with the idea that I might someday move to Washington DC and become a political speechwriter. The closest I ever came was writing a few speeches and a campaign brochure for my uncle when he ran for commissioner of Butler County, PA. (He was elected, so I guess I didn’t do too dreadful a job.)
Instead, I stayed in Pittsburgh and became a catalog/marketing copywriter, which isn’t all that different, really. My goal is to write powerful words that motivate, inspire, and move the unwilling to purchase my client’s latest widget.
I hadn’t thought about my one-time aspiration to be a speechwriter in years. Maybe that’s because I haven’t heard a really moving speech in years. (Sometimes our current president makes me want to cry, too, but not for that reason.)
But then I got drafted into producing the monthly PTA newsletter for my kids’ elementary school. Like most other newsletter editors, I suspect, I’m chronically lacking enough submitted material to fill an issue and forced to write my own content in addition to editing and publishing the darn thing. I decided this month’s issue really ought to include something on Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of MLK Day, which will be observed January 21.
In researching Dr. King, I discovered that you can see and hear him give his “I Have a Dream” speech on YouTube. He made that speech on August 28, 1963, shortly before I was born, but I’m not sure more powerful words have been delivered since. And yes, it moves me to tears, no matter how many times I watch it.
So even though we’re four days early for his birthday and ten days early for his holiday observance, click here to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and the power of words today.