My grandfather's school had Declamation Day every Friday and students were expected to memorize and recite pretty long passages and poems. Well into his 90s, Grandpa could still recite all of John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snow Bound."
We spent every summer at Grandpa's house and he made us learn to memorize and then how to recite. I learned "In Flander's Field," several soliloquies from Shakespeare, "Little Boy Blue," which is way too maudlin for kids, "The Highwayman, (also recited by Anne of Green Gables in one of the books), the entire Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution. And "Trees." (Grandpa knew Joyce Kilmer, the poet, in his WWI days.)
Once we learned a poem, we had to stand in the middle of the living room and recite it, with Grandpa correcting our pronunciation and projection and enunciation (Grandpa was a teacher and had spent years teaching this stuff). Seemed silly at the time, but I'm grateful for the training now, as I have little fear of public speaking.