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‘Independence Day’ Gave Us The Greatest Presidential Address In Recent History
Twenty-two years ago today, director Roland Emmerich and writer Dean Devlin gave American audiences one of the greatest summer blockbusters of the 1990s. Independence Day helped cement Will Smith’s tenure as a top action star of the decade, gave us another excuse to listen to Jeff Goldblum quip and stutter between raised eyebrows, and delivered a perfect mix of camp and gratuitous destruction at a time when we weren’t so queasy about seeing national monuments laid to waste on screen.
Part doomsday sci-fi romp, part patriotic escapist fantasy, Independence Day had all the trappings of an instant summer classic — and that has a lot to do with one scene in the final act of the film. You know which one I’m talking about:
The scene takes place at Area 51, where the survivors of the brutal alien invasion gather to mount a last-ditch offensive to deliver mankind from the threat of annihilation. When President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman), grabs the mic and addresses the beleaguered troops, he delivers the speech we’ve always wanted to hear from an actual president. In fact, if we were ever attacked by a warfleet of extraterrestrials, that scene would probably be required viewing for White House staff, according to former President Bill Clinton's speechwriting director Michael Waldman.
“I wrote a book that was a collection of great presidential speeches, and if in fact the world had been invaded by aliens, this speech would have made the collection,” he told Complex in a June 23, 2016 roundtable discussion. “So that’s high praise.”
Surprisingly, the iconic scene — and it is iconic, so much so that people have actually delivered it during weddings — was written in just five minutes and was never meant to make it into the final cut as is, screenwriter Dean Devlin told Complex. But it's a good thing it did, since the scene ends with Whitmore plugging the movie title when he concludes: “Today we celebrate our independence day!” And it turns out, that was deliberate.
“The main reason we did that is ‘cause the studio at the time was threatening to change the title to Doomsday,” Devlin told Complex. “So we thought, let’s get it into the speech.”
Not only did President Whitmore rally earth’s defenders for one final push against the alien menace, he also helped secure the film’s title, which is great, because… Doomsday? Are you fucking kidding me?
So, we know it’s good, but why is it so goddamn motivating? Well, partly because President Whitmore is the fictional leader we all wish was real. An actual presidential address under these circumstances would amount to a clipped statement followed by an all but-meaningless executive order given that the world is in flames, the military is in disarray, and we just nuked Houston. Sorry, but no carefully crafted statement delivered from a substitute Resolute Desk will cut it.
Instead, we get Whitmore as commander-in-chief in the very literal sense of the constitutional office. An ex-Air Force fighter pilot and Gulf War veteran, he’s more comfortable in a flightsuit and the cockpit of an F-16 (or an F-18 later in the film) than he is wearing a tie and sitting in a boardroom — something he’s criticized for by cable news hosts early on in the movie. But before personally taking to the sky to kick alien ass for America, and all mankind, he’s gotta rally his troops.
“Perhaps it’s fate that today is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom, not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution — but from annihilation,” Whitmore says before pivoting to a more unifying message that pays homage to both the St. Crispin’s Day Speech from William Shakespeare’s Henry V, when the titular king rallies his men before leading them into battle, and to the poem, Do not go gentle into that good night, by Dylan Thomas:
“Should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive!"
If your response to the final lines of that speech was anything but “FUCK YEAH!” and a curious sensation of patriotic arousal, then you’re dead inside. (WARNING: If a moto-boner lasts more than four hours, call your local recruiter — that’ll take care of it immediately.)
And with that, Happy 4th of July. Let’s hope no alien invaders drop by, but if they do, then political leaders the world over should brush up on the finest presidential address in movie history.
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 soldiers and National Guard in the north of the country to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the border into the United States, the head of the Mexican Army said on Monday.
Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop undocumented foreign citizens leaving the country for the United States, and photographs of militarized police catching Central American and Cuban women at the border in recent days have met with criticism.
Mexico is trying to curb a surge of migrants from third countries crossing its territory in order to reach the United States, under the threat of tariffs on its exports by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made tightening border security a priority.
Packages containing suspected heroin were found in the home of the driver charged with killing seven motorcyclists Friday in the North Country, authorities said Monday.
Massachusetts State Police said the packages were discovered when its Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and New Hampshire State police arrested Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, at his West Springfield home. The packages will be tested for heroin, they said.
Zhukovskyy faces seven counts of negligent homicide in connection with the North Country crash on Friday evening that killed seven riders associated with Jarhead Motorcycle Club, a club for Marines and select Navy corpsmen.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.