Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
On September 11, 2001, nineteen men affiliated with the militant Islamic terrorist group al Qaeda hijacked four commercial airliners and intentionally crashed them into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon Building in Washington, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In less than two hours, both World Trade Center towers had collapsed. In total, 2,977 people, from over 80 different countries, perished in the attacks.
Confusion, shock, and anger echoed throughout America—and the rest of the world. But above the cries, speculation, and chaos arose the voice of an American President. We Will Prevail: President George W. Bush on War, Terrorism, and Freedom presents excerpts from the President’s speeches from the immediate aftermath of the Attacks to Memorial Day 2003. The book opens with President Bush’s first words spoken from Emma Booker Elementary School in Saratosa, Florida, where he had been reading The Pet Goat to a group of second-graders, and includes long passages from the 2002 and 2003 State of the Union Addresses, as well as short excerpts, even including a speech given at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.
In the wake of the attacks, Bush vowed that Americans would pursue justice—not revenge. The authors of terror responsible for September 11th are international criminals and would be hunted down, one by one. The war against terrorism is a fight against a movement, an ideology, creating a new kind of war that requires patience and unwavering dedication. Progress is not measured by the destruction of enemy tanks and weapons or by the acquisition of land. This war is not fought in traditional battlefields but in the shadows and caves.
Bush unabashedly pronounced the existence of universal moral truths. America represents freedom: of religion, of speech, of voting, of education, of opportunity. The attacks are evil, despicable acts of terror perpetrated by evildoers. The President encouraged Americans to join in the war against evil by spreading love and peace and kindness: If you want to join the war against evil, do some good…if you want to take a stand, love a neighbor like you’d like to be loved yourself.
In the war against terrorism, there is no gray area, no neutrality. Universal morals draw a stark line between black and white, right and wrong. You stand either with the U.S.—that is, civilization and freedom—or with the terrorists—that is, barbarism and fear. President Bush also made clear that any country harboring or protecting terrorists is considered equally as guilty as the terrorists themselves.
Through the September 11th attacks, history called Americans to protect the greatest achievement of mankind—freedom. Freedom is a right reserved not only for Americans, but it is God’s gift to humanity.
This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.
Undoubtedly, the events of September 11th shaped the Bush presidency and underscored the President’s strength, wit, conviction, determination, and ideals. We Will Prevail captures the words spoken by President Bush in the aftermath of September 11th and transports the reader back to the horrors, triumphs, patriotism, and unity felt on that fateful day and the months that followed.
The victims of September 11th were innocent, and this nation will never forget them. The men and women who murdered them were instruments of evil, and they have died in vain. This nation is strong. This nation is united. This nation is resolved.
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