When encountered with one of the most devastating attacks in history, George W. Bush had to reassure our nation that America was strong and that our country would stand and fight together against terrorism. George Walker Bush born on July 6th, 1946 was the 43rd president of the United States. While only being in office for eight months into his first term as president, Bush gave the 9/11 Address to the Nation after a series of terrorist attacks. (George W. Bush) In George W. Bush’s Address to the Nation after the tragedy of September 11th, he speaks and uses a great deal of rhetorical devices seamlessly to enhance the emotion and impact of his words along with the resolution of our nation.
On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with al-Qaeda, an Islamic extremist group hijacked four airliners to target the United States. Two of the planes crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane crashed into the Pentagon outside of Washington D.C. and the fourth plane did not reach its target and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Referred to as 9/11, over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters. (9/11 attacks) “The September 11th attacks dramatically altered the way the United States looked at itself and the world. The attacks produced a surge of patriotism and national unity and pride. However, the terrorist strikes also fostered a new sense of vulnerability”. (Digital History) On that Tuesday evening, Former President George W. Bush addressed the nation in hope to persuade Americans to feel comforted after a horrendous catastrophe.
Throughout the speech George W. Bush used rhetorical devices to get through to the audience in a way that was reassuring to all that was affected. In Bush’s speech he opens by stating that our nation has been attacked by terrorists that have yet to be identified. Bush notes that thousands of lives were suddenly ended by “evil, despicable acts of terror” and then recalls the images seen in the media of “airplanes flying into buildings.” He characterizes the events as “acts of mass murder” intended to frighten the nation. (Bush, 2001) When hearing or reading his speech what I found to be the most powerful is when he states that “while such attacks can dent the steel of a building, they cannot dent the “steel of American resolve.”” (Bush, 2001) In the sentence that follows he develops a strong metaphor of the United States as a beacon of light for freedom and claims that America was attacked because of that role. While this paragraph is very brief it establishes that America was targeted because it stands for freedom.
Bush goes on stating that “its the nation’s first priority to help those who are injured and to protect the nation from further attack”. (Bush, 2001) It was also vital for the president to reassure a stunned and grieving nation that essential government functions would continue without interruption and that people could rely on these services. “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”. (Bush, 2001) This is a very effective sentence in this speech because Bush is saying they are not just holding the terrorists responsible but the countries that harbor them are equally accountable for their actions. Towards the end of the speech he thanks the members of Congress who have joined him along with the “world leaders” who have also helped with their assistance “to stand together to win the war against terrorism”. (Bush, 2001)
Bush completes his address by praying for help from a “greater power” and quotes Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” (Bush, 2001) Bush states his belief that September 11 was a day when all Americans “from every walk of life” stood together in resolve for justice and peace. “America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world”. Bush closes the address with his thanks and calls on God’s blessing on America.
In George W. Bush’s speech, I identified ethos, the author’s credibility or character, logos, to convince by the use of logic or reason, and pathos, the emotional appeal to persuade an audience by appealing to their emotions throughout the speech. Bush used ethos by his character throughout the speech with the presence of his positivity and self confidence. While giving the speech he is filmed in the Oval office with the American and presidential flag behind him which is very symbolic in a way that Bush has “personal credibility”. The audience listening and watching will likely accept what Bush says as true because he is the President of the United States. Throughout the speech logos was displayed to the audience throughout the nation. A phrase such as “May God bless America” appealed to logos in a way of religion. Bush used logos throughout the speech by making logical claims to assure the people that the government is not panicking and therefore the citizens shouldn’t either.
Finally, George Bush makes a strong use of pathos to evoke numerous emotions from the audience he addressed in his 9/11 speech. The strong emotions that are used in the beginning of his speech demonstrate his use of pathos as he interprets many horrific images “pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge -- huge structures collapsing”. (George W. Bush) The last two sentences of his introduction are using pathos when he says “These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat”, he claims, “But they have failed. Our country is strong.” Throughout the speech Bush uses an emotion of hope to comfort Americans that have been affected. Bush used ethos, logos, and pathos to create a nourishing speech that was successful in a way to get the nation to come together as one.
George W. Bush’s address to the nation used many rhetorical devices along with ethos, logos, and pathos to connect with his audience who have been affected by the 9/11 tragedy in one way or another. His tone throughout the speech and the texts he selected to say after this catastrophe enhance the emotion and impact of his words along with the resolution of our nation. “These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong”. (Bush, 2001) Overall, Bush used the emotion of hope to reassure the people that America is strong.
Digital History. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2016, from http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtid=2
George W. Bush - Address to the Nation on 9-11-01 - The Rhetoric of 9/11. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/gwbush911addresstothenation.htm
George W. Bush. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/georgewbush
George W. Bush. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.history.com/topics/us presidents/george-w-bush
9/11 Attacks. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.history.com/topics/9-11 attacks