Great Speeches That Shaped The World

by Candace RichComment — Updated September 11, 2023

In times of crisis, uncertainty, and monumental change, words have the power to steer the course of history. They can ignite revolutions, soothe a nation’s soul, and inspire generations to come. From the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg to the echoing chambers of the British Parliament, from the steps of the U.S. Capitol to the crowded streets of Washington, D.C., the words of great leaders have reverberated through time, shaping our understanding of liberty, duty, and the human condition.

These are not mere speeches; they are the verbal monuments of our collective consciousness, etched into the fabric of society. The lessons encapsulated in these iconic addresses serve as both a compass and a call to action. For in the eloquence of these words, we find the essence of leadership, the spirit of resilience, and the timeless call for justice and equality. Words that inspire and unite people from all walks of life to come together and work towards a better tomorrow.

These speeches are offered in memory of all those who served in history and all those who serve today. Listed chronologically.

Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg Address

November 19, 1863
Find Gettysburg Address (full text)

MP3 Download – read by Jeff Daniels – 2.31 Megs

MP3 Download – read by Sam Waterston – 672 KB

MP3 Download – read by Johnny Cash – 2.4 Megs

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Winston Churchill “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat”

May 13, 1940 – First Speech as Prime Minister to the House of Commons

“I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make allowance, all allowance, for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

MP3 Download – 1.8 Megs
Full Text of Speech

Winston Churchill – We Shall Fight on the Beaches

June 4, 1940
House of Commons
Following May 26, “Operation Dynamo,” Dunkirk, the evacuation of 338,000 Allied troops to English shores.

MP3 – 2.6 Megs
Full Text of Speech

“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old. ”

Winston Churchill “Their Finest Hour”

June 18, 1940
House of Commons

“But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.” ”

MP3 – 5.8 Megs
Full Text of Speech

Winston Churchill “The Few”

August 20, 1940
House of Commons – Discussing the efforts of the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain

“The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and b~ their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. ”

MP3 – 4 Megs
Full Text of Speech

Attack at Pearl Harbor

Congress declares war after pearl harbor attack newspaper
Credits: reddit – Congress declares war after pearl harbor attack

December 7, 1941 – CBS – Radio announcement regarding attack at Pearl Harbor

MP3 – 551 KB

Franklin D. Roosevelt “Date That Will Live in Infamy”

December 8, 1941 – Joint Session of the U.S Congress. Following December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt declares war on Japan.

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of American was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.. ”

MP3 – 7.3 Megs
Full Text of Speech

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

June 5, 1944 Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s address to the troops about to invade Normandy, France on D-Day

MP3 1.7 Megs 

Credits – The announcement the day after.

News Report – Live Report on D-Day on June 6, 1944

Live Report on D-Day

News Report – Franklin Delano Roosevelt Dies

April 12, 1945

MP3 – 2.24 Megs

BBC News Report – Hitler is Dead

April 30, 1945 From BBC

MP3 – 147KB

News Report – Japanese Surrender

August 14, 1945

Live broadcast describes scene in New York City

MP3 – 5 Megs

President John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address

January 20, 1961
JFK’s Inaugural Address which included “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You

Martin Luther King Jr. – I Have a Dream

August 28, 1963 The “I Have a Dream ” Speech presented at the March on Washington

Full text of speech

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