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David Thompson
Professor Bevill
ENGL 1302-06

Analysis of the State of the Union Address: Unity in Times of Discord


Right after tragedy struck America fifteen years ago, President George W. Bush made his
speech to congress in Washington on 20 September 2001. Usually this annual speech made to
congress by the president, aims to talk to congress on the behalf of American citizens. This
speech was unlike most to congress because of such acts of terror against America and her
people. The president had many things he had to say to America and to the world. The speech
was made specifically to congress but what globally televised and the president addresses many
nations throughout the speech. While the world was grieving the loss of innocence the president
stepped up to lead. The President intentionally emotionally charged his speech to help his point
be made. Through the presidents emotional appeals in his speech to congress he successfully
united and led the nation after a catastrophe to fight a war on terror, with a strong ethos, the
revelation of facts, and an emotionally charged challenge.
One of the many things President Bush did to build his ethos was to ethically appeal by
being respectful to all people and religions. In his speech to congress the President identified the
group at fault, radical Islam, and then proceeded to define the difference between radicals and
traditional Muslims (Bush 2). The President persistently stated that he did not blame the Muslim
people and was glad to call them citizens of the United States. Bush stated that in hijacking the
planes the terrorists therefore hijacked the faith of Islam, and he spoke with vivid imagery (Bush
3). The President spoke highly of the peacefulness of the traditional values Islam and showed

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profound respect. President Bush wanted to be sure that America would not discriminate against
Muslims just because of what a sect of radicals did against America. What is truly incredible is
that these words of non-discrimination still ring true today yet even now America has a hard time
grasping this. While President Bushs respect is an endangered trait within the current political
state it was quite necessary and greatly appreciate by the American-Muslim people.
During the speech President Bush logically made demands to Al Qaeda to lead the nation
into action. It only makes logical sense that our nation would strike back at what has caused
America so great pain. Through the Presidents demands he made it clear that America would not
tolerate what had happened and would be going to war if the demands were not met. Thereafter
the President called the nation to unity and brought forth the power of the United States military.
The President then warned the country that it would be a full frontal ground assault like they had
not seen in many years. All these things were quite shocking to hear for the first time and the fact
that the President stepped up to lead in this emotional time was quite profound. Through this
emotional time it was only logical to have an aggressive response to these acts of severe
injustice. It would be supremely unfair to those that lost their lives and to the families that lost
loved ones.
Through the presidents speech he memorialized the fallen people and appealed to
Americas emotional state of grief. This awful tragedy brought a great wave of heartache
throughout the entire nation. In the heartache the President honored the fallen in many ways, but
one of the greatest ways was with a challenge. The President challenged the American people to
never forget. The President lead in a tremendous way by showing how he planned to complete
the challenge by carry the badge of a fallen police officer. Through completing the challenge
himself it encourages others to participate in some fashion. How President Bush planned to help

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as well was by helping the states affected (New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) with relief
funds and personnel. The nation united to assist one another as well, helping to restore after the
devastation of the attacks. These things that the President did emotionally comforted the
American people in this terrible time. It is arguable that this speech was the first step towards
healing a broken nation in those tragic days.
The President appealed largely through emotion but he intermixed his emotional appeals
with logic and ethics. Whether President Bush was ethically urging the nation to not discriminate
towards Muslims or he was logically making demands of terrorist groups the President had an
underlying theme of emotion through his entire speech. As a whole the President is showing how
he is going to perform damage control in certain areas because of the situation the nation was in.
Through the Presidents damage control his reactions were vital to how the nation and the world
were to proceed in this rough time. During times of distress show the true colors of a leader and
his capabilities to handle the situation. The President thanked the nations all around the world for
showing their support and provides his condolences because of the deaths of international
citizen that lost their lives in the world trade center on that awful day. President George W. Bush
artfully used rhetoric throughout his speech to assist his message. Needless to say President
George Bush skillfully led our nation and the world in a truly devastating time that was filled
with grief and much sadness. Keeping just the speech in mind and not what the world has seen
from what is now history I would deem The Presidents speech a success.

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Works Cited
Bush, George W. George W. Bush: Address to a Joint Session of Congress on the 9/11
Attacks. Joint Session of Congress, 2001, Capitol Building, Washington DC.
Transcribed by Eidenmuller, Michael E., Keynote Address. AmericanRhetoric.com
McGraw-Hill, 2008. Web.