“On America’s day of trial and grief I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know.
“At a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith. That is the nation I know.
“At a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, I saw Americans reaffirm their welcome to immigrants and refugees. That is the nation I know.
“At a time when some viewed the rising generation as individualistic and decadent, I saw young people embrace an ethic of service and rise to selfless action. That is the nation I know.
“This is not mere nostalgia, it is the truest version of ourselves. It is what we have been, and what we can be again. Twenty years ago, terrorists chose a random group of Americans on a routine flight to be collateral damage in a spectacular act of terror. The 33 passengers and seven crew of Flight 93 could have been any group of citizens selected by fate. In a sense, they stood in for us all.
“The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people, facing an impossible circumstance. They comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action and defeated the designs of evil.
“These Americans were brave, strong and united in ways that shocked the terrorists but should not surprise any of us. This is the nation we know. And whenever we need hope and inspiration, we can look to the skies and remember.”
– George W. Bush, the end of his speech, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, September 11, 2021