Former President George W. Bush spoke at the public memorial service held on Tuesday afternoon for the five Dallas police officers who lost their lives during the shooting that took place in Dallas, TX last Thursday. He offered words of hope and healing for a nation that seems utterly divided.
Watch his remarks below.
Thank you Senator. I am really pleased that President Obama and Mrs. Obama have come down to Dallas. I would also like to welcome Vice President and Mrs. Biden. Mr. Mayor, Chief Brown, elected officials, members of the law enforcement community today the nation grieves, but those of us who love Dallas and call it home have had five deaths in the family. Laura and I see members of law enforcement every day, we count, we count them as our friends. And we know like every other American that their courage is our protection and shield.
We are proud of the men we mourn and the community that has rallied to honor them and support the wounded. Our mayor, police chief and police department have been mighty inspirations for the rest of the nation.
These slain officers were the best among us.
Lorne Ahrons, beloved husband to Katrina Ahrons and father of two.
Michael Krol, loving son, brother, nephew and friend.
Michael Smith, U.S. Army veteran, devoted husband and father of two.
Brent Thompson, Marine Corps vet, recently married.
Patrick Zamarripa, U.S. Navy Reserve combat veteran, proud father, and loyal Texas Rangers fan
With their deaths, we have lost so much, we are grief-stricken, heart-broken and forever grateful.
Every officer has accepted a calling that sets them apart. Most of us imagine that if the moment called for that we would risk our lives to protect a spouse or a child. Those wearing the uniform assume that risk for the safety of strangers.
They and their families share in the secret knowledge that each new day can bring new dangers, but none of us were prepared or could be prepared for an ambush by hatred and malice. The shock of this evil still has not faded. At times it seems like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates too quickly into dehumanization. Too often we judge other groups by their worse examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose.
But Americans, I think, have a great advantage. To renew our unity we need only to remember our values. We have never been held together by blood or background. We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments and common ideals. At our best we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others. This is the bridge across our nation’s deepest divisions, and it is not merely a matter of tolerance, but learning from the struggles and stories of our fellow citizens and finding our better selves in the process.
At our best we honor the image of God we see in one another. We recognize we are brothers and sisters sharing the same brief moment on earth, and owing each other the loyalty of our shared humanity.
At our best we know we have one country, one future, one destiny.
We do not want the unity of grief, nor do we want the unity of fear. We want the unity of hope, affection and high purpose. We know the kind, human, and just country that we want to build, that we have seen in our best dreams is made possible when men and women in uniform stand guard at their best when they are trained and trusted and accountable. They free us from fear.
The Apostle Paul said for God “gave us a spirit not of fear, but of strength and love and self control.” Those are the best responses to fear in the life of our country. And they are the code of the peace officer.
Today, all of us feel a sense of loss – but not equally. I’d like to conclude with a word to the families, the spouses, and especially the children of the fallen. Your loved one’s time with you was too short, and they did not get the chance to properly say goodbye. But they went where duty called. They defended us, even to the end. They finished well. We will not forget what they did for us.
Your loss is unfair. We cannot explain it. We can stand beside you and share your grief. And we can pray that God will comfort you with a hope deeper than sorrow and stronger than death.
May God bless you.