ATLANTA (AP) President Bush assured an uneasy nation last night that the United States will prevail against terrorists and said Americans should not “give in to exaggerated fears or passing rumors.”
In a prime-time address, he told Americans to turn their fears into action: Volunteer in hospitals, schools, homeless shelters and at military facilities or train for emergency service work and join a new civil defense force he hopes to build.
“We have entered a new era. This new era requires new responsibilities both for the government and our people,” the president said.
Nearly two months after the hijacker attacks in New York and Washington, Bush conceded that his administration does not know who unleashed anthrax in the U.S. mail. Nor did he offer hope that U.S. troops would soon find Osama bin Laden and unravel his Afghanistan-based terrorist network.
But he confidently predicted victory abroad “We will persevere in this struggle, no matter how long it takes to prevail” and lauded Americans for their actions so far.
“We are a different country than we were on September 10th: sadder and less innocent stronger and more united and in the face of ongoing threats, determined and courageous,” the president told a crowd of 5,000, most of whom were police, postal workers, firefighters and other uniformed public servants.
He was interrupted by applause more than 25 times in his 32-minute speech.
The loudest applause came at the end, when he praised the actions of passengers who fought with hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 before it crashed into a Pennsylvania field. Bush recalled the words of Todd Beamer, a 32-year-old businessman and Sunday school teacher, who was overhead on a cell phone to say, “Let”s roll” as passengers charged the terrorists.
“We cannot know every turn this battle will take. Yet we know our cause is just and our ultimate victory is assured,” Bush said. “We will no doubt face new challenges. But we have our marching orders: My fellow Americans, let”s roll.”
The address was billed as an update on the war in Afghanistan, the anthrax scares at home and the new responsibilities of government and all Americans. He also outlined actions the government has taken to strengthen homeland security, including deploying National Guard troops to airports and giving law enforcement authorities more powers.
“None of us would ever wish the evil that has been done to our country, yet we have learned that out of evil can come great good. During the last two months, we have shown the world America is a great nation,” he said.
The address was billed as an update on the war in Afghanistan, the anthrax scares at home and the new responsibilities of government and all Americans.
He also outlined actions the government has taken to strengthen homeland security.
“Our great national challenge is to hunt down the terrorists and strengthen our protections against future attacks our great national opportunity is to preserve forever the good that has resulted,” Bush said. “Through the tragedy, we are renewing and reclaiming our strong American values.”
He said the country is different “sadder and less innocent strong and more united” than before the attacks.
He spoke in Atlanta, chosen because it is home to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation”s leading disease control facility.
Recognizing in polls a desire by Americans to get involved in the fight against terrorism, the president suggested ways people can serve their country. He urged people to head into “careers of service,” such as firefighting or police work.