Former President George W. Bush on Saturday recalled the unity and strength Americans showed after the Sept. 11 attacks, urging Americans to put aside their political views to come together again today.
“So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment," Bush said. “On America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab their neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another."
Bush, who was commander in chief during the attacks, made the remarks Saturday during a keynote address in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field on Sept. 11, 2001. The passengers fought back against the hijackers before the plane crashed into a field, missing its intended target in Washington, D.C.
"Whenever we need hope and inspiration, we can look to the skies and remember," he said.
Following 9/11, Bush led the U.S. to war in Afghanistan weeks later, followed by the war in Iraq in 2003. Now just weeks after the United States' chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, Bush acknowledged that these military measures "have led to debate."
"But one thing is certain," he said. "We owe an assurance to all those who fought our nation's most recent battles ... To you and the honored dead, our country is forever grateful."
Bush recalled the moments that Americans across the country learned of the attacks.
"The actions of an enemy revealed the spirit of a people. And we were proud of our wounded nation," he said.
He emphasized the need to pass on the memory of these moments to those who were not old enough to remember so that they understand the legacy and significance.
"For those too young to recall that clear September day, it is hard to describe the mix of feelings we experienced," Bush said. "There was horror at the scale of destruction and awe at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it. There was shock at the audacity of evil and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it."