In honor of this year’s Memorial Day, we are taking a look back at some of the best military speeches ever presented. Each has their own personal touch with real-life stories, words of encouragement, and brave ambition. Here are our top 5 military speeches that inspire us.

  1. Winston Churchill, “We Shall Fight on the Beaches”


Enough can’t be said about how great a speaker Winston Churchill was. This is one of his most iconic speeches that masters the art of the “build up.” In 2 minutes, Churchill delivers an inspiring and motivational chant-like speech that is etched in history. This speech was delivered in 1940 at the House of Commons in England, around the time of the Battle of France during World War II. Churchill went on to deliver other iconic speeches like “Blood, toil, tears and sweat,” and “This was their finest hour.”


  1. President George Washington, “Resignation Speech”


As the Revolutionary War came to an end in 1783, the United States of America’s first President stepped down from his position. George Washington, who has led the country to freedom, decided to end his term as president to keep American democracy alive. In a heartfelt address to the Continental Congress, Washington says, “I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my Official life, by commending the Interests of our dearest Country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping.”


  1. President Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Brandenburg Wall”


“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” This incredibly durable speech by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 has been quoted for decades. Following the second World War, Germany was a terribly divided country. Half the country supported democracy while the other half was under communist rule. Mr. Reagan was determined to bring unity to the country, and bring an end to the cold war. The immediate reaction to the speech was hit or miss, but it has since gone down in history as one of the most iconic speeches delivered by an American president.


  1. Admiral William H. McRaven, University of Texas at Austin Commencement Speech



In 2014, Naval Admiral William McRaven gave one of the most motivational and inspiring commencement addresses. Filled with personal experiences and timeless advice, and after 37 years of military service, I consider this advice worth taking. Admiral McRaven lays out the 10 life lessons from his experience as a Navy SEAL that can be applied to all areas of our life.


  1. Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July”


For part of their Fourth of July celebration in 1852, the city of Rochester, New York asked abolitionist Frederick Douglass to give a speech. Marked as one of the most popular speakers of his time, Douglass took the opportunity into his own hands and delivered a brutally honest speech. While Douglass recognizes the bravery of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, there was a hypocrisy in the treatment of black men and women in the United States. “I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary!” Douglass declares, “Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.” His words captured the frustration felt by freed slaves across the country.

More from the Ethos3 Blog:

3 Lessons Presenters Can Learn from the Navy Seals

Lessons from Ancient History – Words of Leadership from Alexander the Great

4 Presentation Lessons from Adam Driver’s TED Talk

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