- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2002

NEW YORK President Bush yesterday marked the "year of sorrow" since September 11 by visiting all three sites of the terrorist attacks and vowing to defend America against future strikes because "every life is precious."
Mr. Bush hugged and kissed and cried with the victims' family members, murmured words of comfort and lingered to sign autographs at ground zero in New York and a remote field in rural Pennsylvania.
"For those who lost loved ones, it has been a year of sorrow, of empty places, of newborn children who will never know their fathers here on Earth," the president said last night in a televised address from Ellis Island, with the Statue of Liberty in the background.
"For members of our military, it has been a year of sacrifice, and service far from home," he added. "For all Americans, it has been a year of adjustment, of coming to terms with the difficult knowledge that our nation has determined enemies, and that we are not invulnerable to their attacks."
The president wept during a ceremony at the Pentagon and became emotional while meeting for nearly two hours with family members 70 feet below street level at the site of the former World Trade Center. But he remained calm and composed for his prime-time address to the nation.
"A long year has passed since enemies attacked our country," he said. "We have seen the images so many times they are seared on our souls, and remembering the horror, reliving the anguish, reimagining the terror, is hard and painful."
But Mr. Bush hastened to add that much good had supplanted the evil of the terrorist attacks.
"September 11, 2001, will always be a fixed point in the life of America," he said. "The loss of so many lives left us to examine our own."
He added: "Each of us was reminded that we are here only for a time, and these counted days should be filled with things that last and matter: love for our families, for our neighbors, and for our country; gratitude for life and to the Giver of life.
"We resolved a year ago to honor every person lost. We owe them remembrance, and we owe them more.
"We owe them, and their children, and our own, the most enduring monument we can build: A world of liberty and security made possible by the way America leads, and by the way Americans lead our lives," the president said.
Mr. Bush was careful not to mention action against Iraq, a topic he is reserving for a major speech today to the U.N. General Assembly. But he made clear he wanted to defend America from enemies beyond al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
"The attack on our nation was also an attack on the ideals that make us a nation," Mr. Bush said. "Our deepest national conviction is that every life is precious, because every life is the gift of a Creator who intended us to live in liberty and equality.
"More than anything else, this separates us from the enemy we fight. We value every life; our enemies value none not even the innocent; not even their own. And we seek the freedom and opportunity that give meaning and value to life.
"There is a line in our time, and in every time, between those who believe that all men are created equal, and those who believe that some men, and women, and children, are expendable in the pursuit of power," he added.
"There is a line in our time, and in every time, between the defenders of human liberty, and those who seek to master the minds and souls of others."
The closest the president came to mentioning Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was when he condemned tyrants across the globe.
"We have no intention of ignoring or appeasing history's latest gang of fanatics trying to murder their way to power," he said. "They are discovering, as others before them, the resolve of a great democracy.
"In the ruins of two towers, under a flag unfurled at the Pentagon, at the funerals of the lost, we have made a sacred promise, to ourselves and to the world: We will not relent until justice is done and our nation is secure. What our enemies have begun, we will finish," he said.
The day was a marathon of memorials for the president, who began with a church service across from the White House, where flags were waving at half-staff. Gospel selections at St. John's Episcopal Church were read by former Bush aide Karen Hughes, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Kathleene B. Card, wife of White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.
The Rev. Luis Leon extolled the strength of America's diversity of faith. He reminded worshippers that while September 11 was horrendous, "it didn't break us," prompting a nod of approval from Mr. Bush in the first pew. The pastor prayed for continued wisdom and leadership from the president, who appeared to wipe a tear from his cheek.
Returning to the White House, the president joined 800 White House staffers along the South Portico for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the precise moment the first hijacked jetliner slammed into the World Trade Center. From senior aides in business suits to groundskeepers in short-sleeve shirts and a pastry chef wearing a tall, white hat, each staffer was given a special White House lapel pin commemorating the one-year anniversary.
Mr. Bush then headed for the Pentagon, where a tear trickled down his cheek during a series of speeches and songs outside the newly repaired Pentagon. The president led 1,300 participants in the Pledge of Allegiance, although stiff winds kept blowing a large flag back onto the Pentagon's roof, where it was first unfurled in defiance shortly after the terrorist strike on Washington.
The president continued on to Shanksville, Pa., for his first visit to the remote field where 40 persons were killed when the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 tried to wrestle control of the jetliner away from hijackers and it crashed into the ground. Reporters were barred from the field as Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Bush met with family members.
He then went to New York, walking down a long ramp into the dirt of ground zero. He quietly chatted with grieving family members, some of whom buried their heads in his chest and sobbed. Others joked with the president as he posed for pictures with them and signed autographs.
At the end of a long day, Mr. Bush reminded Americans that their future was bright.
"Tomorrow is September the 12th," he said. "A milestone is passed and a mission goes on. Be confident. Our country is strong."
He used the setting of New York Harbor to laud the ideals of freedom and dignity.
"This ideal of America is the hope of all mankind," he concluded. "That hope drew millions to this harbor.
"That hope still lights our way. And the light shines in the darkness. And the darkness will not overcome it."


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