President Ronald Reagan’s June 6, 1984, “Address on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day” is one of his most celebrated speeches, and yet no critical assessment of the address exists in rhetorical scholarship. In this article, I examine this speech as a deictic epideictic address, or a speech in which the rhetor uses the physical place, the immediate scene/setting, and the assembled audience as evidence to commemorate the past and chart a clear course for the future. Through this analysis, I argue that Reagan’s speech at Pointe du Hoc is exemplary because it relies on rhetorical vision and deixis to connect a past moment to the present, and in so doing, invites the audience to participate in the discourse emotionally, mentally, and even physically. I conclude by suggesting that a deictic approach to rhetorical criticism offers scholars a vocabulary to describe how speakers can “point” or refer to the physical and material elements of a speech setting as evidence for their argument.
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