Keith Hennessey reports about President George W. Bush visiting Ground Zero, on September 14, 2001, the story behind the remarkable spontaneity, the words that helped to fortify the rescuers, comfort the grieving, and reaffirm Americans’ common faith in each other.
As the President talked to them, expressing gratitude, consoling some, and encouraging all, you could feel the strength and energy rising. He stepped up on the ruins of the fire engine, was handed the bullhorn, and began to speak. From the other side of Ground Zero, where a large number of the emergency responders had gathered, someone yelled “We can’t hear you!” The President’s response was from his heart, totally unscripted, and everyone felt he power of his words. The site literally erupted with cheers, it was incredible and energized and lifted those working at Ground Zero and those of us traveling with the President. In the end, all of us, I think the President included, left with a renewed energy and strength. Those men and women inspired all of us to work hard and do all that we could to support the President as he worked to protect our Nation. What we came to provide to them, they actually gave to us.