Obama's remarks echoed Lincoln and Martin Luther King in at least two respects: 1) the use of scriptural passages to set the tone, 2) and the emphasis on worthiness and living up to expectations of the children, particularly those of Cristina Green, the inspirational nine-year old girl, who was born on September 11, 2001.
Structurally, the address was nearly identical to his "Yes, We Can!" speech, Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream," and Lincoln's “Gettysburg Address”. Though delivered to differing audiences in different eras, the speeches each had nearly identical 'understandability statistics' in terms of grammatical constructions, rhetorical elements, tone and vocabulary. In terms of empathetic concern, he echoed Bill Clinton, who was often referred to as the “Mourner in Chief” with his 'I feel your pain' mantra.
It was a somber, sorrowful message filled with future-related, hopeful constructions with words such as hope, light, and love address delivered to a respectfully attentive crowd. With the 2010 Mid-term elections now in his wake, this can be an opportunity to begin a new narrative for the remainder of Obama’s term.
Paul JJ Payack is president and chief word analyst at the Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas, which has been tracking political language since 2000.