Former President George W. Bush Tuesday memorialized the five Dallas officers slain in a sniper ambush last week by saying to the families of the fallen, "they finished well."
"They defended us, even to the end," Bush said at an interfaith memorial service for the officers at Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. "We will not forget what they did for us."
Also in attendance was former first lady Laura Bush — along with President Barack Obama, who later spoke, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden.
The officers killed in last Thursday's attack were Lorne Ahrens, 48; Michael Krol, 40; Michael Smith, 55; Brent Thompson, 43; and Patrick Zamarripa, 32.
"Your loss is unfair," Bush, who also served two terms as Texas governor, said to the families. "We cannot explain it.
"We can stand beside you and share your grief. And we can pray that God will comfort you with a hope deeper than sorrow and stronger than death."
Bush, who settled in Dallas after leaving the White House in 2009, expressed grief for the "five deaths in the family" and praised both the slain officers and "the community that has rallied to honor them and support the wounded.
"Laura and I see members of law enforcement every day," the former president said. "We count them as our friends.
"These officers were the best among us," Bush continued before reading off the names of the deceased. "With their deaths, we have lost so much.
"We are grief-stricken, heart-broken, and forever grateful."
He then touched on the realities of policing — for the officers and their families.
"Every officer has accepted a calling that sets them apart. Those wearing the uniform assume that risk for the safety of strangers.
"They and their families share the unspoken knowledge that each new day can bring new dangers.
"But none of us were prepared, or could be prepared, for an ambush by hatred and malice. The shock of this evil still has not faded."
Bush also called for unity amid the bloodshed, frustration and anxiety that has engulfed the nation over the deaths in recent weeks.
"At times, it seems like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates too quickly into dehumanization.
"Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions," Bush said. "This has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose.
"But Americans, I think have a great advantage. To renew our unity, we only need to remember our values. We have never been held together by blood or background.
"We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments to common ideals."
In his eulogy, President Obama said that the Dallas attack appeared "as if the deepest fault lines of our democracy" was exposed, though he rejected the notion that the country was divided.
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