A “turning point in American life” George W. Bush reflects on 9/11

“ September 11th will someday be a date on the calendar, like Pearl Harbor Day. For those of us who lived through it, it’ll be a day we never forget.” – George W. Bush

In the most in-depth televised interview he has ever given on the subject, President Bush provides intimate detail on what he grappled with as both the Commander in Chief charged with protecting his fellow citizens, and as a family man concerned for his loved ones. The candid observations by the former president illuminate his personal journey through one of the most unforgettable moments in modern American history.

The  interview with Former President George W. Bush, in which he calls 9/11 his “defining moment” and a “turning point in American life,” airs on National Geographic on August 28 and is now available on DVD.

Mr. Bush said he never wanted to be a wartime president and that he made decisions as best he could “in the fog of war.” Even in the days immediately following 9/11, Mr. Bush said he “didn’t have a strategy” and acted “day by day.” He described his first thoughts upon hearing news that a plane had hit theWorldTradeCenteras angry: “Who the hell would do that toAmerica?” Criticized by some for his initial reaction in the Florida classroom, Mr. Bush made no apologies in the film and maintained that he wanted to “project a sense of calm” for the elementary school students.

As then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card approached the president with news of a second plane strike, Mr. Bush said he felt a “presence behind me” and described watching the press corps decipher his reaction like “watching a silent movie.”

He called his first statement of the day “hasty,” recounting that parents at the event expected to hear about their school’s reading program and instead heard “Americais under attack.”

In his third and final statement of the day, Mr. Bush said he got “as close” to declaring war on the enemy as he could, but didn’t. He was also adamant to return toWashingtonand make this address in the Oval Office. “I damn sure wasn’t going to give an address from a bunker inNebraska,” adding that he wasn’t going to give the enemy “that psychological victory.”

He described his visit to ground zero after the attack. It looked like a giant scar from the air, but when he got to the site, “it was like walking into hell,” he said.

The two-day interview by the National Geographic crew started the day after President Barack Obama announced the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Bush says the news made him “grateful.” He says: “I didn’t feel any great sense of happiness or jubilation. I felt a sense of closure. And I felt a sense of gratitude that justice had been done.”

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10 years ago

I can see why you wouldn’t be cxieted about being that close to President Obama, because he’s not George Bush, you know, the guy who destroyed America and who you applauded for 8 years while he did! You don’t like anything good. Me? I love being near the guy who is trying to fix America ..not destroy it!THANK YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA! WOOHOO!

10 years ago

I for one did not vote for President Bush in 2000….Thank The Lord he was elected anyway. In 2004 I did vote for him. Sadly there is only a two term eligibility….I cannot even refer to Obama as President….Obama. I donot even reer to him as mister, merely Obama. It is sad that a man can get elected so he has the luxury of social aclimation and free travel for his families luxurious vacations. This ia agreat country, I have two children serving it in the Marine Corp. Giving up their civil liberties so people like Obama can live the good life, tear down this great country and dishonor those who serve it by taking their menial BHA payments and cutting them, while he is expanding our government to the point no one knows who is in charge of and/or doing What…Our men and women give their ALL to protect and serve. Obama takes whatever he can for granted. President Bush is a purely faithful, God loving man and deserves and receives ALL my RESPECT and THANKS for his sercvice to this nation. I pray the next president deserves the title as President Bush did. I also pray that President Bush can forgive myself and the other foolish people who were blind-sided in the past by the rhetoric of untruthful policies and power hungry selfishness among those seeking the presidency. God Bless America and God heal our wounds and save this nation from self-serving power mongers without moral substance.

steve Pedroza
10 years ago

this present president has blamed you for this country, going broke,living families without homes and jobs, His running out of excuses.

Martha M
10 years ago

President Bush,
God put you at the right place at the right time. No one could have handled the 9-11 crises as great as you did. You are still and will always be my HERO! May God Always Bless You and America.

Jamie Henry
10 years ago

In response to Sally Smith. The Patriot Act saved us from further attacks! You better check your sources. What North American Union?! As for WMD, Russian, British, Egyptian intelligence all confirmed US intelligence of Saddam having WMD. Look, President Bush did the best he could at the time. He was faced with responding to horrific and tragic acts of evil cowards. These scumbags killed everyday average Americans like you and I who were innocently going about our lives doing everyday normal things. President Bush got us justice and kept my family and your family safe! You can’t ask any more of the man. President Bush, God Bless You! Thank you for your service to the greatest country on God’s green earth!

Pat from Texas
10 years ago

What a great President we had! President Bush & Mrs.Bush I wish you were still there and may God Bless you. The present one in office, I cannot bring myself to call him President.

10 years ago

George W. Bush is not perfect. None of us is. However, I do believe he TRIED to do what was right based upon the information given to him by the advisers and handlers that every president deals with daily.

I’m thankful for his example of calm during a national crisis and for his ongoing example of returning to being a citizen who serves instead of being a breast beating political hack with only self interest to speak of.

BJH from Texas
10 years ago

I am so proud of President Bush and his response on 9/11. He and Mrs. Bush have always loved our country and shown us by example how godly people lead this great nation. I am proud he is a Texan.

10 years ago

President George Bush was a great leader. I’m grateful he was in charge during 9/11, and I’ll always be grateful for his presidency. Miss you, Mr. President.

10 years ago

Thank you Mr President. As the days went on after that gut wrenching day, I took peace in knowing that you, VP Cheney,and Mr. Rumsfeld were our leaders.I thanked God frequently that we had the right people running the white house. Ten years later, Thank you for your leadership.

Jim Benat
10 years ago

I thank God (sorry Bloomberg… you idiot) that he provided us with the right leader, at the right time, in history. Thank you President Bush for your leadership.
I shudder to think of how different and tepid our responce would have been if that enviromental whacko algore would have been our President.

10 years ago

President Bush is true gentleman and leader.

Jane Evans
10 years ago

You set the tone for your Presidency right from the beginning. You did not whine about the previous President you rolled up your sleeves and went to work.
I’m proud of my country and proud of you. Thank You !

Sally Smith
10 years ago

Most here seem to think President Bush was a great president. You need to do your research. Prescott Bush was a Communist and a Nazi Supporter. Sr. Bush Promoted the NWO and United Nations Agenda 21 Program. Bush Jr. gave us the most unconstitutional Act ever – The Patriot Act, TARP, decreased the quantity of our nukes, promoted open borders and the North American Union, which would take our sovereignty away, he promoted the NWO, overspent, Iraq War over WMD, No Child Left Behind – a disaster, amnesty and I voted for him. I was asleep at the time and ashamed of myself – now I am awake and I am telling all of you to do your research and wake up! Mrs. Bush Jr. could not wait to write a book and tell us how liberal she really was. She really was pro-choice, not pro life….etc.

Robert Tilden
10 years ago

Dear President Bush, I too am grateful for your service as a man of conscience before God. Although I do miss having you as President, I doubt that you miss the job. Leading this nation at that point in its evolution was probably a thankless task. I wish you the very best in your endeavours in life after the presidency. Thank you.

9 years ago
Reply to  Robert Tilden

We can not wait for this event to start!!! There is so much hidden tnalet and creativity in the Brazos Valley that this really gives a good chance for everyone to see how much we have to offer up close and personal. We’ll be holding a special Art Step event in downtown Bryan that will showcase many artists performing their tnalets right on the street for everyone to watch. We will also have horse drawn carriages, Texas A&M Jazz Band, and our local Farmers Market. COME EXPLORE THE LIFE AND BEAUTY OF BCS!!!

10 years ago

GOD Bless you,AND GOD Help Us !

Kay Howe
10 years ago

I miss you so much President Bush – your honor, your courage, your dignity, your class, your Godliness, and your love of America. Our current President has none of these traits.

melanie cristea
10 years ago

am so grateful for such a great President, Mr. George Bush. We prayed with you and for you. Thank you president Bush, I wish you were still there.
Thank you and God bless America.

10 years ago

I recounted….I’ve lived through 13 presidents and 43 was almost as good as Reagan. The love of this country equals no other.

10 years ago

President Bush and President Reagan were the two best of my time and I’ve lived through the 10 presidencies (sp?) I hope democrats will tune in so they can see the essence and the soul of this man compared to the cold heartedness of BO. Hell B Hussein Obama sympathiesis with his Muslim brothers. One more thing….Bush always gets blamed for the failings of the democrats…remember, our economy was great until the big spending democrats took over in 2006. He had the longest growth period in history and an average of 4.5 unemployment even after the events of 9/11. He just did not use the veto pen enough, hoping to get along with the Dems. I love him anyway.

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