“This is a challenging and solemn time in the life of our nation and world,” the message, narrated by Bush, began. “A remorseless invisible enemy threatens the elderly and vulnerable among us. A disease that can quickly take breath in life. Medical professionals are risking their own health for the health of others and we’re deeply grateful. Officials at every level are setting up the requirements of public health that protect us all. And we all need to do our part.”
The voiceover continued, playing over clips of families, couples, healthcare workers, and everyday moments that have been lost or affected by the coronavirus. In America alone, the death toll has risen past 66,000 with confirmed cases at 1.1 million.
“The disease also threatens broader damage: harm to our sense of safety, security, and community,” he said. “The larger challenge we share is to confront an outbreak of fear and loneliness. And it is frustrating that many of the normal tools of compassion–a hug, a touch–can bring the opposite of the good we intend.
"In this case, we serve our neighbor by separating from them. We cannot allow physical separation to become emotional isolation. This requires us to be not only compassionate but creative in our outreach. And people across the nation are using the tools of technology in the cause of solidarity.”
Bush stated that in these testing times, the country needs to remember a few key issues in this call to unite, citing the hardships the country faced following the terrorist attacks on September 11.
"I saw a great nation rise as one to honor the brave, to grieve with the grieving, and to embrace unavoidable new duties," he said. "And I have no doubt, none at all, that this spirit of service and sacrifice is alive and well in America. Second, let us remember that empathy and simple kindness are essential, powerful tools of national recovery. Even at an appropriate social distance, we can find ways to be present in the lives of others, to ease their anxiety, and share their burdens.”
The former commander-in-chief noted that the suffering and hardships in the wake of COVID-19 will disproportionately affect society, both in health and in the workforce.
“Third, let’s remember that the suffer we experience as a nation does not fall evenly,” he continued. “In the days to come, it will be especially important to care in practical ways for the elderly, the ill, and the unemployed. Finally, let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat. In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants, we are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful, in the sight of God. We rise or fall together and we are determined to rise.”
Bush’s call for unity was met with criticism by President Donald Trump.
In a tweet on Sunday morning, Trump called out the former president on his absence during the impeachment trial he faced earlier this year.
“‘Oh bye the way, I appreciate the message from former President Bush, but where was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside.’” Trump tweeted, sharing an apparent quote by "Fox & Friends" co-host Pete Hegseth. “He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!”