WASHINGTON (BP)–The United States will remain steadfast in its effort to achieve justice and to defend its freedom in a struggle against terrorists who, unlike the ideals of America, do not value all human life, President Bush said Sept. 11 on the first anniversary of the deadliest foreign attacks on this country’s soil.
At the end of a day in which he participated in numerous memorial observances, Bush spoke from New York’s Ellis Island, with the Statue of Liberty in the background. He affirmed the response of Americans to the attacks that killed more than 3,000 people. In a speech dotted with references to God, Bush said the radical Muslims who hijacked and crashed four commercial jets attacked not just Americans but their ideals.
“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,” Bush told a national television audience. “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 all men are created equal and those who believe that some men and women and children are expendable in the pursuit of power,” the president said. “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.”
Bush did not mention Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden or Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein by name in his seven-minute speech, but he pledged again to deal with those who threaten freedom.
Americans “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,” Bush said. “This nation has defeated tyrants and liberated death camps, raised this lamp of liberty to every captive land. We have no intention of ignoring or appeasing history’s latest gang of fanatics trying to murder their way to power.”
The president was scheduled to address the United Nations Sept. 12 on Iraq and its threat to other countries through its stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction.
He also sought to reassure Muslims the anti-terrorism campaign was not directed at their religion.
“America strives to be tolerant and just,” Bush said. “We respect the faith of Islam, even as we fight those whose actions defile that faith. We fight, not to impose our will, but to defend ourselves and extend the blessings of freedom.”
The attacks of the year before had caused Americans to examine their lives, he said.
“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, love for our neighbors and for our country; gratitude for life and to the giver of life,” Bush said.
The cause of America is even greater than the country itself, the president said in closing.
“Ours is the cause of human dignity: Freedom guided by conscience and guarded by peace,” he said. “This ideal of America is the hope of all mankind. That hope drew millions to this harbor. That hope still lights our way.”
In a nearly direct quotation of John 1:5, Bush followed by saying, “And the light shines in the darkness. And the darkness will not overcome it.”
The president and his wife, Laura, began the day at a memorial service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is near the White House. They paused with White House staff for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first hijacked airliner struck the World Trade Center in New York. He spoke at an observance at the Pentagon, where 184 people died where another jet crashed. Later, Bush traveled to Shanksville, Pa., and to the former site of the World Trade Center, where he laid wreaths and met with family members of those who died in crashes at those sites.
Speaking to military personnel and others at the Pentagon ceremony, Bush said, “We fight to protect the innocent, so that the lawless and the merciless will not inherit the earth.”
The transcripts of the president’s speech at the Pentagon and in New York are available on the Internet at www.whitehouse.gov.