Our Unity Is a Kinship of Grief
Speech by President Bush
September 14, 2001
We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered
so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We
come before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for
those who love them.
On Tuesday, our country was attacked with deliberate and massive
cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes, and bent steel.
Now come the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning
to read. They are the names of men and women who began their day
at a desk or in an airport, busy with life. They are the names
of people who faced death, and in their last moments called home
to say, be brave, and I love you.
They are the names of passengers who defied their murderers,
and prevented the murder of others on the ground. They are the
names of men and women who wore the uniform of the United States,
and died at their posts.
They are the names of rescuers, the ones whom death found running
up the stairs and into the fires to help others. We will read
all these names. We will linger over them, and learn their stories,
and many Americans will weep.
To the children and parents and spouses and families and friends
of the lost, we offer the deepest sympathy of the nation. And
I assure you, you are not alone.
Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet
have the distance of history. But our responsibility to history
is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of
War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder.
This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This
conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will
end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.
Our purpose as a nation is firm. Yet our wounds as a people are
recent and unhealed, and lead us to pray. In many of our prayers
this week, there is a searching, and an honesty. At St. Patrick's
Cathedral in New York on Tuesday, a woman said, "I prayed
to God to give us a sign that He is still here." Others have
prayed for the same, searching hospital to hospital, carrying
pictures of those still missing.
God's signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in
tragedy that his purposes are not always our own. Yet the prayers
of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral,
are known and heard, and understood.
There are prayers that help us last through the day, or endure
the night. There are prayers of friends and strangers, that give
us strength for the journey. And there are prayers that yield
our will to a will greater than our own.
This world He created is of moral design. Grief and tragedy and
hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance, and love have
no end. And the Lord of life holds all who die, and all who mourn.
It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. This is
true of a nation as well. In this trial, we have been reminded,
and the world has seen, that our fellow Americans are generous
and kind, resourceful and brave. We see our national character
in rescuers working past exhaustion; in long lines of blood donors;
in thousands of citizens who have asked to work and serve in any
And we have seen our national character in eloquent acts of sacrifice.
Inside the World Trade Center, one man who could have saved himself
stayed until the end at the side of his quadriplegic friend. A
beloved priest died giving the last rites to a firefighter. Two
office workers, finding a disabled stranger, carried her down
sixty-eight floors to safety. A group of men drove through the
night from Dallas to Washington to bring skin grafts for burn
In these acts, and in many others, Americans showed a deep commitment
to one another, and an abiding love for our country. Today, we
feel what Franklin Roosevelt called the warm courage of national
unity. This is a unity of every faith, and every background.
It has joined together political parties in both houses of Congress.
It is evident in services of prayer and candlelight vigils, and
American flags, which are displayed in pride, and wave in defiance.
Our unity is a kinship of grief, and a steadfast resolve to prevail
against our enemies. And this unity against terror is now extending
across the world.
America is a nation full of good fortune, with so much to be
grateful for. But we are not spared from suffering. In every generation,
the world has produced enemies of human freedom. They have attacked
America, because we are freedom's home and defender. And the commitment
of our fathers is now the calling of our time.
On this national day of prayer and remembrance, we ask almighty
God to watch over our nation, and grant us patience and resolve
in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console
those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now
must mourn, and the promise of a life to come.
As we have been assured, neither death nor life, nor angels nor
principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
nor height nor depth, can separate us from God's love. May He
bless the souls of the departed. May He comfort our own. And may
He always guide our country.
God bless America.