The best science fiction stories capture our imaginations with clever worldbuilding, cool visuals, and interesting ideas. But sometimes the most powerful thing of all can be just a person speaking eloquently.
Nothing else can get the heart-pounding or blood pumping more than words. No more so than when they are uttered in the form of memorable speeches given in some of the greatest movies in science fiction.
In the third act of Independence Day, President Thomas J. Whitmore, played by Bill Pullman, only has a few minutes before joining a ragtag team of volunteers who are about to launch a last-ditch effort against the all-powerful aliens with their goal set to conquer Earth and in doing so, wipe out mankind from the face of the planet.
The speech Whitmore orates in Independence Day from 1996 has become a pop culture fixture in and of itself. Witmore holds the speech before putting on his flight gear (he is a combat pilot after all and belongs in the air) to fly off for the final battle against the invading aliens.
Here’s the text:
“Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind.”
“‘Mankind.’ That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom … Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution … but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist.”
“And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day 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!’ Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”
Bill Pullman told Complex that he researched various acclaimed speeches from the 20th century to inform his recitation, drawing particular inspiration from a speech Robert Kennedy made shortly after finding out Martin Luther King, Jr.