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This date in history

January 9, 1951:  The United Nations headquarters opened in New York City. 

1929:  “The Seeing Eye” was incorporated in Tennessee to train guide dogs for the blind.

1859:  Carrie Chapman Catt was born.  She became the voice of the women’s suffrage movement … leading the campaign that gave women the right to vote in the United States. 

Washington’s First Annual Address

On this date in history … January 8, 1790:

George Washington gave his first annual address to Congress.  The Revolutionary War’s commander-in-chief offered this perspective as our nation’s first president:  “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means for preserving the peace.”

Writing speeches to honor MLK Day?

Here’s an excellent speechwriting resource:

The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr., selected and introduced by Coretta Scott King (published by Newmarket Press, NY).  You’ll find a detailed chronology, plus more than 120 excerpts from MLK’s speeches, sermons and writings. 

Also included:  the full Proclamation made by President Ronald Reagan, marking the first observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a national holiday.

FDR’s “Four Freedoms” Speech

January 6, 1941:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress about “a world founded upon four essential freedoms.”  He cited:

* freedom of speech and expression

* freedom of every person to worship God in his own way

* freedom from want

* freedom from fear

Quote of the Day

“Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes.”  (Voltaire … January 5, 1759)

Planning for the Month

Here’s a tip to streamline your speechwriting assignments:

On the first work day of each month, note upcoming holidays.  They can provide important themes, help you create clever titles, and lead to media attention.

January has Martin Luther King Jr Day.  February brings Presidents’ Day.  March celebrates St. Patrick’s Day.  While you might not be writing speeches about any of those holidays, you can refer to them … draw historical lessons … cite motivational anecdotes … include relevant details.  In doing so, you’ll make your topic more interesting (both to the audience and to the media). 

Check this blog throughout the coming weeks.  I’ll be providing info for Martin Luther King Jr Day, Presidents’ Day, and other holidays … providing lists of books/websites , and sharing terrific quotes/anecdotes. 

New Year’s Resolutions for Speechwriters

Make yourself this professional promise: 

“In 2009, I will find out the ‘speech rate’ (the number of spoken words per minute) for each of my clients. ”

After all, how can you write a terrific 8 minute speech … if you don’t know whether your client speaks only 110 words per minute, or rushes along at 195 words per minute?  Do the math.  It makes a huge difference.

Happy New Year! 

“Start with a fresh page…. on the first of January, let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.”  (Henry Ward Beecher, 1813-1887, US clergy)

“Nobody Shoots at Santa Claus”

Today is the birth date of Al Smith, governor of New York (born December 30, 1873).  

It was Al Smith who coined this phrase in 1936, reflecting his opposition to the New Deal:  “Nobody shoots at Santa Claus.”

In recent weeks, I’ve heard this phrase used in speeches, Q&A sessions, and media interviews … still a part of our national vocabulary after more than seven decades. 

Gifts for Clients

Each year, instead of sending formal holiday gifts, I contribute to a variety of worthwhile organizations in honor of my clients.  This year, I focused my “alternative giving” program on relief efforts for our country’s natural disasters:  in particular, the floods that devastated so much of the Midwest, and the hurricane that brought destruction to the Texas Gulf  and Houston. 

I began my “alternative giving” initiative more than a decade ago, and it’s been enormously satisfying.  It’s a pleasure to pick out worthwhile causes:  libraries … Habitat for Humanity … the Salvation Army … Heifer Project International … tree planting efforts … museums … food banks. 

Perhaps the most satisfying gift I ever gave?  Buying DVDs to entertain the troops recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center.  (A friend who worked at the Pentagon helped me with the logistics of delivering the DVDs to the patients.)

I’m already thinking ahead to the contributions I’ll make in 2009.  And, may I make a suggestion?  When the time rolls around for you to send holiday cards and gifts to your own clients, consider an “alternative giving” program.  It’s a great way to honor your clients … and you’ll feel terrific about it, too. 

Writing speeches about the economy?

On December 23 …

1690: The Massachusetts Bay Colony issued a series of tax anticipation certificates – the first loan ever floated by an American government.

1788: Maryland gave 10 square miles of its territory to the United States. This land was for the establishment of a Federal city … to be the capital of the new nation.

1913:  The Federal Reserve Act was approved

December 23 officially stands as “Economists’ Day.”  This year, economists certainly have plenty of material to keep themselves busy. 

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