Bush was accompanied on stage by former first lady Laura Bush, Vice President Kamala Harris, and her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff.
The 43rd President condemned the terrorists’ acts two decades ago and today warned of the threat posed by domestic terrorism in the United States.
“We have seen increasing evidence that the dangers to our country can arise not only across borders, but also from violence that spreads within human lives,” he said. “It is our ongoing duty to face them.”
The former president recognized the growing divisions in the country’s current politics and promoted the same unity that had grown together after the attack on the country 20 years ago.
“So much of our politics has become a bare appeal to anger, fear and resentment,” said Bush. “On America’s Trial and Sorrow Day, I saw millions of people instinctively grab their neighbors’ hand and stand up for one another.”
He acknowledged that his government’s military efforts “sparked debate” in response to the attacks, but claimed that the armed forces were “protecting fellow citizens from danger”.
“Nothing that followed, nothing can affect your honor or your performance,” Bush said of veterans of the following wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.