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Parallel Sentences in an Inaugural Speech


"In a land of great wealth, families must not live in hopeless poverty. In a land rich in harvest, children must not go hungry. In a land of healing miracles, neighbors must not suffer and die unattended. In a great land of learning and scholars, young people must be taught to read and write. "—Lyndon Bains Johnson (President of the United States) from his Inaugural Address in January, 1965.

Note how Johnson (or, most probably, his speech writer) has used parallel structure to good effect in his speech. In the final sentence, note how "great land" breaks the pattern through the addition of the adjective "great" before "land" (which was unmodified in the previous two sentences). Such a break in pattern places more emphasis on the adjective "great."

Also worth noting here is the use of basic vocabulary throughout, understandable by most citizens. Yet, the ideas expressed here are profoundly moving.

(May 1, 2011)

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