Close Reading Analysis of Primary Sources

President Bush's Remarks to the Nation


Thick Description:

This address is given one year after the attacks of September 11th. There is a stress on how difficult the year has been with multiple references within the first few sentences. Negative words like,“horror… anguish…terror… sacrifice,” are repeated (Bush 2002). The speech goes on to address the “greatness” that Americans exhibited during and after the attacks (Bush 2002). Bush references some of the acts of the citizen, such as the individuals who seized control of one of the hijacked planes, the rescuers for those in ground zero, and the American citizens as a whole. He continues by talking about what citizens can learn from this; specifically, the notion of having limited time. He talks about  Moving along, he talks about remembering those who passed away. The words “we owe” repeats many times in this section. There is talk about the idea of the nation. There is a brief call to action for American citizens. This quickly transitions into prior times where the U.S. has faced enemies. There is multiple references to faith and the “Creator” or “God” (Bush 2020). The word “freedom” also appears in the speech multiple times.

Analysis:

       The multiple references to the challenges Americans face highlight how detrimental this event was to the American public. From this we could deduce that the direct effects and memories of the attacks are still fresh in the minds of the American populous. The repetition of this concept also may imply that these negative effects from the events will still be felt for years to come.

         The moments were Bush begins to talk about the victims of attack by saying, “we owe them…” signifies an importance in remembering, specifically those who were killed or lost loved ones.  This implies that U.S. is going to preserve a way of remembering the individuals. The ‘how’ of this question is not answered within this particular speech, but would be important to explore as I continue my research.

          There are multiple references to God throughout the speech. This would suggest that the United States is predominantly Christian or acceptance of christian values. A possible questions would be, who did religion play a role in how the United States choose to move forward following the attacks.

          Lastly, it is important to note how often the President refers to the country’s force, strength, and heroic citizens. This evokes a sense of patriotism. It could be interpreted as a call to action. Patriotism could provide citizens with a sense of belonging, pride, and strength the country needed in order to carry on. A possible question to explore would be how the outward expression of patriotism changed in the American culture after September, 11th.

Final thoughts:

           This speech is important to my research, as this is the Head of State, the President, reacting to and reflecting on American life in the first year following the attacks. This could potentially have set a tone for how Americans would come to remember the events of September 11th.

To View President Bush’s Speech please follow the link below: 

https://www.911memorial.org/sites/default/files/President%20Bush’s%20Remarks%20at%20the%20Pentagon%20on%20First%20Anniversary.pdf