Trump: ‘It Is Time to Heal the Wounds That Divide Us’
President strikes a conciliatory tone and asks nation to find a 'new unity' based on 'common values'
President Donald Trump said, “We have no division too deep for us to heal,” and “It is time to heal the wounds that divide us” as a nation by seeking “a new unity,” during a speech at the National Convention of the American Legion in Reno, Nevada.
Fresh off a controversial rally in Phoenix, Arizona, the day before, the president took time Wednesday to praise U.S. veterans and current service members for their unity and their “shared sense of duty,” just prior to signing the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act. While the nation was still wrestling with the aftermath of a deadly race-fueled rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, Trump exhibited a conciliatory tone as he called upon the nation to follow in service members’ footsteps and learn how to practice unity.
"It is time to heal the wounds that divide us and to seek a new unity based on the common values that unite us," Trump said. "We are one people with one home and one great flag. We are not defined by the color of our skin, the figure on our paycheck, or the party of our politics."
"We are defined by our shared humanity, by our citizenship in this magnificent nation, and by the love that fills our hearts. And I know I speak for all of you when I say our hearts beat for America," he added.
The president fielded intense criticism for the three responses he offered to the Charlottesville violence. In his first statement, Trump condemned the "many sides" involved in the hatred and violence. In a follow-up statement, Trump explicitly called out white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis before doubling down on the blame that "both sides" shared in the culture of political violence. Trump revisited the Charlottesville controversy in Phoenix on Tuesday and reignited media commentary on his response to the event.
But on Wednesday, Trump struck a more solemn and unifying tone as he asked the nation to overcome its differences and find the common ground that already exists — just as U.S. service members do every day.
"We are here to hold you up as an example of strength, courage and resolve that our country will need to overcome the many challenges that we face," Trump told the veterans and service members in attendance. "We are here to draw inspiration from you as we seek to renew the bonds of loyalty that bind us together as one people and one nation."
Trump continued: "Those who wear the nation's uniform come from all different backgrounds and from every single walk of life. But they are all united by shared values and a shared sense of duty. They are all part of one team with only one mission in mind. Most importantly, they're all Americans and they work together, they fight together, and they sacrifice together to defend our magnificent home ... Now, our nation must follow that same work ethic, that same devotion to a greater cause, to achieve our country's full potential."
Although he did not mention Charlottesville by name, the president appeared to allude to the rally and its violence by insisting that "we will never tolerate crime in our cities, bloodshed in our communities, or acts of hatred or terrorism against our citizens. We will not stand for it."
"We have no division too deep for us to heal, and there is no enemy too strong for us to overcome because in America we never lose faith," Trump said. "We never forget who we are, and we never stop striving for a better future. Together we cannot fail. We will not fail. We will make America great again — greater than ever before, I promise."
In order to find some inspiration to tackle the difficult task ahead of them, the president urged American citizens to look at the nation's past in order to learn from its struggles and hard-won successes "because our people have always had that will to endure and to overcome."
"This is now the challenge of our times. We must ask ourselves who we are, what we stand for, and what together we can achieve," Trump said. "If American patriots could secure our independence, carve out a home in the wilderness and free millions from tyranny and oppression around the world, than that same spirit of strength, courage and resolve can help us create a better future for our people today — a future like even our people have never had before in this great country. That's what we're aiming for."
"This is the spirit we need to overcome our challenges, to pursue our common destiny and to achieve brighter future for our people," he added. "This is the future we can build together if we have the courage to act, the strength to endure, and the patriotism to join together with true affection for our fellow citizens."