In today’s observance of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at Ground Zero in Manhattan, current President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush spoke briefly to the audience assembled. Bush took the stage after a moment of silence to read Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 letter to Lydia Bixby, after Lincoln was informed at the time that Bixby lost five sons in the Civil War (a report that was later determined to be incorrect, as three apparently survived). It is considered to be among Lincoln’s finest works, and regardless of the backstory to the letter, it is remarkably applicable in cases of national mourning. Bush only spoke to read the letter aloud, and was briefly greeted by a few cheers after he began (via Larry O’Connor):
Likewise, President Obama took the stage only to read Psalm 46, a particularly apt passage:
The symbolism of having both Presidents at the same service is powerful indeed, and sends a clear message about the strength of America. It also shows that regardless of the plots of terrorists, we will not shrink from our defense of liberty and our mission to spread liberty throughout the world. This was a fitting way to commemorate the lost, and to demonstrate our ability to rebuild and recommit ourselves to that mission.