President George W. Bush:

We were not meant to live apart from each other, especially in times of challenge. Our tools of compassion — a hug, gathering as people of faith or in friendship, caring for our family when they are ill — bring the opposite of the love we intend. Rarely in history have we served our neighbor by distancing from them.

As Americans, this concept is frustrating and foreign to us. We live in a free nation, but independence from the state doesn’t mean isolation from each other. Our free society thrives when neighbors help neighbors and the strong protect the weak. The success of a nation to uphold that freedom depends on the character of its citizens.

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. Our differences are small in the face of this shared threat. In the final analysis, we are equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. I maintain an unshakeable faith in the future of country, because I know the character of our citizens. We rise or fall together. And we are determined to rise.