Letters . . .

Jul08

4th of July Speech

7-8-2015           Last week, I delivered a patriotic Mark Twain speech at a public speaking event in Raleigh,N.C.  Mr.Twain was often asked to speak at 4th of July events and he loved doing them.

There were children present, so I seized on the opportunity to give some of Twain’s advice to youth.  I dismissed the adults present as incapable of change and addressed the younger audience members.  “Always obey your parents, when they are present”!  This had the desired effect of making the parents laugh and getting the attention of the kids.

Apparently, Twain’s advice was memorable.  A woman who attended shared with me several days later that she had reminded her son that he had to listen to her.  The child responded by saying, “Yes, when you are around!”  Lesson learned!

He would humor his holiday audience by warning of the dangers to the country posed by the celebrations.  All over American, guns will be fired and dynamite blasted.  He described the 4th as the most dangerous day of the year.  Twain pointed our that entire villages will burn to the ground! This was the perfect opportunity to tell Twain’s story about his uncle, “so full of patriotism, opened his mouth to hurrah and a rocket went down his throat!”.

This is classic Mark Twain humor.  The audience can’t help but laugh at the thought of the uncle having a rocket go down his throat!  The listeners are uncertain if this is really a joke, or if Twain’s uncle was really killed.  It was, of course, just a joke.

When he spoke in Keokuk, Iowa on the 4th, Twain pretended to be upset that he was not the last speaker.  He said the last speaker has the advantage of the other. Nobody can dispute his word and the audience assumes the last speaker is the best.  The Declaration of Independence was read aloud at this event in the Bedford Community in Raleigh. Is there anything better than a reading of that eloquent piece of our history to top off a patriotic speaking event?

I hope this event is held again next year and with any luck “Mark Twain” will be invited to speak again!  Don McNeill