Friday, November 7, 2014

10 famous speeches by women about war

As Remembrance Day and Veterans Day draw near, you'll be hearing plenty of speeches about war and service. But if you think women's speeches about war are mostly the views of mothers sending their sons to battle, think again. This collection from The Eloquent Woman Index includes the perspectives of heads of state, journalists, activists, diplomats and a nurse, and they speak unflinchingly of the impact of war, from the treatment of prisoners and post-war disability to what defeat can teach us. It's another international collection, and an historic one, going back to the 16th century and into the 21st.

Click through on any speech below to find, where available, text, audio or video. Every post includes lessons you can learn as a speaker from these famous speeches:
  1. Marie Colvin's eulogy for fallen war correspondents came from a knowing source, as she herself made that her career. It's poignant to read now, as Colvin was killed in Syria just before she was to return home. A unique look at what it's like to live and work in war zones.
  2. Helen Keller's "Strike Against War" speech, nearly a century old, aimed at keeping the U.S. out of World War I. 
  3. Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi on forgiveness after 9/11 is a TED talk given by a pair of activists who share an unusual motherhood tie: One had a son who died in the World Trade Center attack, while the other's son is serving a life sentence for having masterminded that attack.
  4. Jeane Kirkpatrick's "Blame America First" was a rare keynote in which a UN ambassador was putting the name of Ronald Reagan into nomination for his second term as U.S. president, and she took a hard line in defending military strikes and peacekeeping missions abroad.
  5. Hillary Clinton's statement on the 9/11 killings of Americans in Libya took place on what she has called her most difficult day as U.S. Secretary of State. Given to State Department employees, it takes the form of a memorial to colleagues.
  6. Elizabeth I's speech to the troops at Tilbury, the oldest speech in the Index so far, aimed to rally the troops--and this brave queen even vowed to follow them into battle. An inspiring, stirring speech.
  7. Coretta Scott King's "10 Commandments on Vietnam" carried forward the mission of her late husband, Martin Luther King, Jr., whose antiwar sentiments were closely tied to his thinking about civil rights.
  8. Princess Diana's speech on the ban on landmines came not long before her death, and reflected the activism she took up after her divorce, a bold and public move for this reluctant speaker. It's a forthright look at the aftermath of war.
  9. Clara Barton's congressional testimony about Andersonville gave an eyewitness account that brings the horrific treatment of prisoners of war in the U.S. Civil War into sharp focus. This testimony led to a speaking tour for Barton at a time when few women gave public speeches.
  10. Julia Gillard commemorated Australia's greatest war defeat in a ceremony at dawn that is as much about that country's character as the battle that defined it.