Speechwriter as second-responder

By David Murray, Editor, Vital Speeches of the Day

John Kerr wrote a speech for his then-boss, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, the day after 9/11.

“I did not despair,” he remembered this week at PunditWire. “Instead, I was energized. ‘Okay,’ I thought, ‘this is what we get paid for.’ That attitude did not stop the tears from dripping onto my copy of the New York Post, my lunchtime reading for the week, and its gut-wrenching reports of New York’s Finest and New York’s Bravest.”

The payoff? Watching a middle-aged woman listen to the speech he wrote for the governor:

All through the speech, she kept a stone face. Then the Governor mentioned the Star-Spangled Banner.

When he said, “On Wednesday morning, all Americans woke up to see the American flag still there, still flying high, ‘O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave,’” she let out a loud whoop.

Was it rage? Pride? Defiance?

Whatever it was, it drove the despair away.

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