President Bush: ‘At Our Best, We Know We Have One Country, One Future, One Destiny’

Tuesday at the memorial service for the five slain Dallas police officers, former President George W. Bush reminded audience members, “At our best, we know we have one country, one future, one destiny.”

Bush said, “Most of us imagine that the moment called for that we would risk our lives to protect a spouse or a child. Those wearing uniforms assume that risk for the safety of strangers. They and their families share the unspoken knowledge that each new day can bring new dangers. But none of us were prepared or could be prepared for an ambush by hatred and malice. The shock of this evil still has not faded. At times it seems like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates too quickly into dehumanization.”

“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions,” he continued. “And this frays our bonds of understanding and common purpose. But Americans I think have a great advantage to renew our unity—we only need to remember our values. We have never been held together by blood or background. We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments to common ideals. At our best, we practice empathy and circumstances of others, imagining ourselves in their lives. This is the bridge across our nation’s deepest divisions. And it is not merely a matter of tolerance, but of learning from the struggles and stories of our fellow citizens and finding our better selves in the process.”

“At our best, we honor the image of God we see in one another,” Bush said. “We recognize that we are brothers and sisters, sharing the same brief moment on earth and owing each other the loyalty of our shared humanity. At our best, we know we have one country, one future, one destiny. We do not want the unity of grief, nor do we want the unity of fear. We want the unity of hope, affection, and high purpose. We know that the kind of just humane country we want to build that we have seen in our best dreams is made possible when men and women in uniform stand guard. At their best, when they’re trained and trusted and accountable, they free us from fear. The Apostle Paul said, ‘for God gave us the spirit not of fear, but of strength and love and self-control.’ Those are the best responses to fear in the life of our country.”

“And they’re the code of the peace officer. Today, all of us feel a sense of loss, but not equally,” he added. “I’d like to conclude with the word of the families, the spouses, and especially the children of the fallen. Your loved one’s time with you was too short. They did not get a chance to say a proper good-bye. But they went where duty called, they defended us even to the end. They finished well. We will not forget what they did for us. Your loss is unfair. We cannot explain it. We can stand beside you, and share your grief. And we can pray that God will comfort you with a hope deeper than sorrow and stronger than death. May God bless you.”

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