Bush Begins Weeklong 9/11 Tributes

Published September 11, 2002

| Associated Press

President Bush, his hand over his heart, appeared to fight back tears as the national anthem played and America's week of remembrance began.

``Our emotions run deep, but our resolve runs deeper,'' first lady Laura Bush said from her husband's side at Monday night's taping of "Concert for America 2002" at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The NBC-TV production will be broadcast Wednesday on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania.

``One year ago, we were attacked because of who we are and what we believe. But out of the evil done that day has come good,'' the president said at the finale of the show featuring Josh Groban, Placido Domingo and more.

``We've been reminded that we are one nation — diverse but united — and that we're one people deeply committed to one another, and that we're one country blessed by freedom and willing to defend our freedom.''

For Bush, the concert began a week of ceremonies and speeches reflecting on the attacks and reinforcing the war against terror.

On Tuesday, Bush was conferring with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barosso about expanding the anti-terror war into Iraq. Later, at the Embassy of Afghanistan, he was to celebrate that country's post-Sept. 11 liberation from the Taliban regime that harbored Usama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorists.

On Wednesday, Bush is making a pilgrimage from the Pentagon to the southwestern Pennsylvania field where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed and, finally, to New York's Ground Zero, the excavated pit where the World Trade Center once stood.

That night, he will address the nation from Ellis Island, with the Statue of Liberty as his backdrop — one that he hopes will remind ``America again of our moral calling, our higher purpose as the beacon of liberty and freedom for people around the world,'' White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.

Bush said his most painful memories remain those from his visit to Ground Zero just days after the attacks, when he met with hundreds of the victims' families.

``There was a lot of bloodlust,'' Bush recalled for a 60 Minutes II program being broadcast Wednesday.

``People were, you know, pointing their big old hands at me saying, 'Don't you ever forget this, Mr. President. Don't let us down.'''

Bush also told the CBS News program that some Defense Department officials worried the commander in chief might retaliate with knee-jerk — and ineffective — cruise missile strikes. ``There's a lot of nervous Nellies at the Pentagon,'' he said, adding that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld convinced him early on of the need for an all-out war.

In a similar retrospective for PBS' The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, Vice President Dick Cheney said he probably owes his life to the Flight 93 passengers who are believed to have fought back against their Sept. 11 hijackers and crashed the plane in a Shanksville, Pa., field rather than let it reach its apparent target in Washington.

Those passengers ``saved my life and that of all of us who were at the White House complex that day. I think about it periodically — if it hadn't been for what they did, that I might not be here today,'' Cheney said.

In a speech Thursday to the U.N. General Assembly, Bush will argue that the world coalition that has hunted bin Laden must stand together against Iraq's Saddam Hussein.


 

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