Editor’s Note: These remarks were made by President George W. Bush at Ellis Island, New York one year after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
September 11, 2002
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. A long year has passed since enemies attacked our country. We’ve seen the images so many times they are seared on our souls, and remembering the horror, reliving the anguish, re-imagining the terror, is hard — and painful.
For those who lost loved ones, it’s been a year of sorrow, of empty places, of newborn children who will never know their fathers here on earth. For members of our military, it’s been a year of sacrifice and service far from home. For all Americans, it has been a year of adjustment, of coming to terms with the difficult knowledge that our nation has determined enemies, and that we are not invulnerable to their attacks.
It has been our practice thus far to always provide positive examples and literature in these Hero’s Handbooks. However, knowledge, important knowledge, can be found in negative examples as well. A few weeks ago we published a Hero’s Handbook, entitled Colossus of Independence, in which we encouraged action–for by a single action history can be made. In this week’s Hero’s Handbook, we present the reverse of this concept–how certain acts foment our problems instead of allaying them.
Sometimes, you just cannot become the hero of your life story–by yourself. As soon as an aspiring hero decides in his heart to pursue his personal legend, the entire universe seems to conspire against him. Sometimes the tests and trials of life simply overwhelm the aspiring hero’s infant determination. Then the Mentor arrives.
Are you living in the arena? Do you strive to accomplish much and do great deeds? Do you work to maximize your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional vitality and achieve the calling that has been laid on your life by the Creator of the universe? Or do you live without expectation, and sneer at risk-takers because you yourself will not take the risk? I do not mean this to be condemning; we are all victims of the instinctual urge to achieve stasis.