Former President George W. Bush called for unity of strength, love and self-control rather than one of grief or fear on Tuesday.
Five officers were killed and seven were injured in a police shooting Thursday night. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Bush were among those present at the memorial for the five officers, who were targeted by the shooter because they were white.
Bush’s words were reminiscent of 9/11, another time when grief and fear unified the country. The last time Bush spoke publicly to an audience of this scale was nearly five years ago, on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 at Ground Zero.
“At times it feels like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together,” Bush said.
He read the names of the five officers killed, and described one as a “loyal Texas Rangers fan,” drawing unexpected laughter from the somber congregation.
Bush didn’t speak specifically on the tension between police officers and the Black Lives Matter movement, but did caution against hasty judgment.
“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions,” Bush said.
As the choir sang “Battle Hymn of the Republic” at the end of the service, the Bushes, Obamas and Bidens all joined hands and George W. Bush swayed enthusiastically while smiling and singing.