I’m referring to actor Bill Pullman, whose inspirational speech in the climax of the 1996 blockbuster film Independence Day easily ranks near the top of American history’s greatest public addresses. Pullman’s sermon is so powerful, that it certainly deserves similar recognition as Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” and Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speeches.
Sure Dr. King’s commentary and actions led to significant, necessary, and long-lasting social change. And yes, Gehrig’s courageous words inspired millions to appreciate the value and fragility of life (Saturday marks the 70th Anniversary of his legendary 1939 speech at Yankee Stadium). But neither iconic orator tangibly influenced the world like Mr. William Pullman did on one tumultuous 4th of July evening.
No, my friends…Pullman wasn’t sharing his dreams with his listeners. He wasn’t telling people how “lucky” he felt to be acting in a relevant film again. Portraying President Thomas J. Whitmore, Pullman was inspiring men and women throughout the world to fight for humanity’s right to exist! And he wasn’t doing it from a podium…he was speaking from the top of a military fighter jet.
With aliens threatening to destroy our planet, Pullman gave nearby troops a pep talk that makes Gene Hackman’s Hoosiers speech look like it was delivered by Ozzie Osbourne. With incredible use of syntax and powerful expressions such as “We will not go quietly into the night,” Pullman single-handedly catalyzed the resistance that saved our world from its demise (Jeff Goldblum may have helped a little bit too).
Even more impressive than Pullman’s speech, was how he followed it up. After receiving State of the Union-like applause, he climbed into the fighter jet and joined the fight to save the planet! Flying alongside skilled pilots, such as a drunken farmer played by none other than Randy Quaid (another American icon), Bill Pullman directly put his words into action.
When celebrating this year’s Fourth of July at your respective barbecues, don’t simply pay tribute to our nation’s Founding Fathers. Give a little love where it’s long overdue. Give thanks to the man who taught us that “we can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore.” Think about America, and the man who helped the country (and the rest of the world) survive its greatest historical challenge.
I know I will.