I’m not much of a philosopher, but I know this isn’t the time for politics or posturing. It’s the time to come together, however briefly, and recognize that our country has been made the victim of a violent and bloody act of domestic terrorism. It’s made all the more tragic because the mass violence was delivered up at the hands of a fellow citizen. A West Wing episode titled “20 Hours in America” aired almost a decade ago, but it’s one of those hours of television that kind of sticks with you once you’ve seen it. Responding to a domestic terror attack on the campus of fictitious Kennison State University, President Bartlet offered what, for my money, is one of the best monologs in ever put on film. Given the events of the day, I found it more appropriate than any and words I could come up with on my own.
So without further introduction, I give you President Bartlet:
More than any time in recent history, America’s destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek, nor did we provoke an assault on our freedom and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive… Every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars. God bless their memory. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
A clip of the entire scene is available on YouTube. If you’ve got two minutes, I highly suggest you give it a look. The image/sound quality isn’t great, but I think it serves the purpose.