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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

George W. Bush, a Cry to Battle

On September 11, 2001, at 8:46 am American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. At 8:50 am President George W. Bush, who was visiting an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida, was quietly notified of the plane crash as he read aloud to the students. At 9:03 am United Air Lines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower of The World Trade Center, At 9:37 am Flight 77 crashed into the west facade of the Pentagon. At 10:07 am after finding out about the attacks passengers of Flight 93 fight back and crashed into field in Pennsylvania. The towers would collapse with firefighters, police and good Samaritans inside; in all 2,996 people were killed and more than 6,000 others wounded. On September 20, 2001, George W. Bush addressed the joint session of Congress and the American people where he delivered a battle cry for war. This inspirational battle cry was an attempt to get Congress and the American people on board to fight back against those who brought terrorism to our nation; Bush redefined the word terrorism and brought patriotism to new heights as he readied the nation for war. In his speech, Bush addressed the terror that took place on 9/11, painting a picture of the never before seen terrorism tactics that were carried out; redefining the word as we know it. He calls out to the American people to stand united as a nation, to not fear the cowards responsible and assured the American people swift and fair justice. Additionally, Bush strongly encouraged that America goes to war against those who carried out these horrific acts of terrorism.

But this wasn’t the first time the World Trade Center had been attacked. On February 26, 1993, a Ryder truck full of explosives detonated killing six people and injuring a 1,000. America has had other foes before 9/11 as well, there was the Cold War, where America feared what could happen between them and Russia. After the Cold War, America was free from enemies until the Middle East region became a focus; as it was unstable with many conflicts happening. These conflicts are for power over religious beliefs wanting control of the regain and of the Holy Land, they do not like the U.S for their western beliefs and freedoms. Not to mention the vast oil reserve in the Middle East that everyone in the world including the U.S would like control of them. George W. Bush’s father, George Bush, sent the nation to war with Iraq “Gulf War” when he was President. The unrest would continue throughout the 90’s and as George W. Bush would inherit this as he entered his Presidency.

Bush points out in his address that terrorism has taken on new meaning with these attacks and he shows how the U.S. has indeed seen this type of terror before in 1941 with Pearl Harbor. Bush states, “Americans have known wars, but for the past 136 years they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941.” Similar to Pearl Harbor, 9/11 was an attack on civilian life; an attack on a great city on a peaceful morning. Those comments prove how Bush acknowledges the past but show how these attacks were different and a new kind of threat to America. He also highlights the way they were carried out, by the hijacking of planes. Bush describes the magnitude of the planning and execution of which it was conducted and how this was on a scale of which Americans have never seen before thereby forever changing how U.S. Citizens would view terrorism forever. Bush also announces the creation of the Homeland Security and the increasing of marshals on flights. He spoke of how this was not just an American problem but a world problem, shedding light on how terrorism as a global issue. By doing this Bush redefined the word terrorism and the nations view of how to deal with it moving forward. This changed the way we travel, rushing into a new area of airport security and national security. You can see the changes today with T.S.A. and extra security as well as not meeting someone at their gate but outside the airport instead. With Homeland Security we also have a color coded level alert system to let us know the degree of danger of future terrorist attacks.

Bush’s speech brings patriotism out in the American people by striking several cords’ throughout his speech. He addresses why the Taliban hates America; by doing this, he highlights the American way of life, freedom, and confirming how America is strong and will recover because of their will to survive and determination to move forward. This brings out American pride when you read or listen to the speech even years after the speech was given but was especially powerful right after the events of 9/11. By addressing America, he gains public support gives the country an understanding that war is on the horizon. Bush also affirms that the nation is strong, to not live in fear and that together as Americans, the nation will come together and be stronger than it was before. Bush continues, “(this nation’s generation will lift us from violence, that we will rally the world with our courage and that we will not falter and will not fail).” The words rang out to all Americans, fostering a new found sense of patriotism by rallying citizens during the time and brought out the best in the communities around the country where people were helping those affected by this tragedy. People began showing more pride in the military, and there was a surge in enlistments as well. Bush’s words sparked this in the nation not only by reassuring that all citizens would get through it but also be better for doing so as the sense of being American being restored. This was a huge boost to a grieving nation, and the patriotism that came from Bush’s giving the speech did just that. One of my favorite lines that show this is “this country will define our times, not be defined by them.” (2001, George W. Bush) Although there, are many lines you can pick from where he appeals to America’s patriotism this one just seems to fit into the present day.

Bush had a strong message throughout his speech of a plea for war, a rally for justice or a cry to battle; however you want to put it, the massage was made clear. He asked Congress to vote for U.S. troops to fight back against its attackers. One of the first things he says really illustrates his intention of war with those responsible, he states, “Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or justice to our enemy’s justice will be done.” This is a strong statement expressing his demands justice and desire to take action by letting America know he will not stand by and let them suffer like this again. As he continues, he gets to a point where he calls out Al Quaeda, making demands of what America wants in order to resolve this. He also addresses Afghanistan by stating how any country that aids them is also an enemy of the U.S. This is showing an unwavering stance and proclamation to the world his intention of war and that the demands made are nonnegotiable; further solidifying a hard line stance. I believe this rallied the American people to support the war and get behind Bush, especially given that the attacks were only nine days prior at the time of the speech. One of the best things Bush does in his speech to rally Congress and the people to war is when he call out to the world claiming this is not just Americas fight but the worlds fight. He quotes NATO, “an attack on one is an attack on all”. This also gives Congress reassurance that they have more countries on their side and back up if needed. This is intended to ease Congress and the people’s minds about war knowing they will not be alone in the fight; another clear example of a tactic he used to swayed the country to war. Bush also specifically addresses the troops by asking them to stand ready because the time is coming for them to makes us proud; another example he is readying the nation for war against those who carried out the 9/11 attacks. This was George W. Bush’s battle cry for a great nation to take justice on what had just happened to them, leading them into a new era on how they view and fight wars. It would also lead to the Iraq war; a war fought against Saddam Hussein and the possibility of weapons of mass destruction, which would turn out to not be a popular war given that they never found significant proof of these weapons.

After reading and studying this speech in more detail I have found it to be a turning point in modern day history. It is significant because it changed the world. After the attacks of 9/11 America was left feeling vulnerable like they did in 1941. It changed lives forever; people lost Grandfathers, Grandmothers, Moms, Dads, sons, daughters, friends and much more. The east coast lost a prominent part of the New York, a landscape that will never look the same. They several brave men and women in law enforcement as well as firefighters and many watched as it all unfolded on television. Being, in my early twenties this event had a big impact on my life opening me up to a world I had only read about up to that point. I remember watching as the towers fell on T.V. and I knew people that had lost loved ones and friends who would eventually get deployed. It is also significant because with George W. Bush’s speech we ended up going to war with terrorism and fighting in Afghanistan where even more lives would be lost. The effects of these attacks are still seen today sixteen years later. American troops are still in the Middle East and brand new kind of warfare from this. I remember seeing live footage on T.V of airstrikes when the war started. It changed Americas view on terrorism to the point that there are people on watch lists and band from flying; not to leave out body scanning machines at the airport. My opinion is it changed history without a doubt and Bush’s address to joint session of congress and the American people inspired a nation to stand up to terrorism, not to live in fear and get back up after being knocked down. This was truly George W. Bush’s cry to battle, rallying a wounded nation and its people. I would like to end with a quote from his speech, something I think stands out.

“I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I will not rest, I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people. “

George W. Bush

References:

Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2017, from https://georgewbush- whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html

President Bush Addresses the Nation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/wpsrv/nation/specials/attacked/transcripts/bushaddress_092001.html

American Civilization, A Brief History. 2nd Edition ed. Salt Lake Community College: n.p., 2016. Print.

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