We Must Not Let Our Differences Harden Into Division: President George W. Bush, Honoring the Memory of Flight 93
“We must not let our differences harden into division.” – President George W. Bush, giving speech to honor the heroes of Flight 93 on September 10, 2011. America must always be a melting pot, where we welcome people of all backgrounds who also want to share in our values and way of life.
Ten years ago, an American generation was faced with an absolute feeling of panic, anguish and horror. For millions, for the first time in their lifetime, America was not invincible. The inconceivable was taking place. America was under attack and we could only watch, helpless, as two planes flew into our World Trade center, another into The Pentagon and one more, downed in a Pennsylvania field due to the acts of courageous men and women.
Many of our elders could recall times prior where America had a moment of absolute pause and pain: Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr., the tragic disaster of the Challenger space shuttle, killing civilians and explorers alike, But unlike all these tragedies, 9/11 represented something more. It was the first time our children were faced with the concept of American vulnerability. Not only were those who attacked us crafty and resourceful, but they could be lurking anywhere.
A war on terror was declared. A war against an idea that could be held within the mind of anyone. In the days after 9/11, fear of the Muslim populace sored as America vowed to stalk every nation in the Middle East until revenge was fulfilled. Our allies were behind us and a national coping mechanism of sorts coursed the nation’s collective body.
Grief. Fear. Paranoia. Division. These things have highlighted the media and politics following 9/11. And since those days, we’ve suffered. Our economy has not been as strong. It seems natural disaster and hardship sting a little more, as a snowball effect is realized. Everything seems to be piling up on our nation and within our realm of politics and media, Democrats and Republicans have been at each other’s throats, playing the blame game of hardship on one another.
But these words by President Bush today, and followed by the words of President Clinton, showed one thing that happened on 9/11 that we must never forget. We are the United States of America. And without unity, there is only division.
Unity is not an exclusive principle. We cannot be united if we’re constantly at each other’s throats, seeking to lambaste and destroy all others. The time must come to where we were before the 9/11 attacks. A country of peers and a nation that seeks peace. While we must always remain cautious and look out for terror, we must not let it consume us. It was a philosopher, Nietzsche, who warned, “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
If we stare too long into the vessels of grief, fear, paranoia and division for too long, they will become us. We will become a nation of eternal grief and vengance. We will be a people ruled by fear and dictated by emotive rage. We will be paranoid and divided, not able to trust one another. This is not the spirit of peace our Creator meant for us.
My dear friends, we may all have our differences. But as we continue in life, we must not let our differences turn into divison. We must always keep our eyes and hearts open. We must learn to embrace healing, trust and unity. And most of all, as we learned from our fallen heroes on Flight 93, whose memory shall live on for millenia, we must learn the value of courage.
Courage is what will get America through this tough time. We must have the courage to accept our differences and move forward, together. Sure, we will fuss and bicker over lifestyle differences, it is human nature. But in the grand scheme of things, progress is driven by those who, at the end of the day, can still embrace their peers as brothers and sisters.
On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, let us not let the sacrifices of the brave heroes of 9/11 and all those who fell that day be in vain. Let us embrace a new time of courage, love and progress. Let us embrace unity.
And most of all, let us believe in the United States of America.