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pd12no01 Satellite Remarks to the Central European Counterterrorism Conference...

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[Page 1614-1618]
Pages 1599-1630
Week Ending Friday, November 9, 2001
Address to the Nation on Homeland Security From Atlanta

November 8, 2001

    Thank you so very much. We meet tonight after two of the most 
difficult and most inspiring months in our Nation's history. We have 
endured the shock of watching so many innocent lives ended in acts of 
unimaginable horror. We have endured the sadness of so many funerals. We 
have faced unprecedented bioterrorist attack, delivered in our mail.
    Tonight many thousands of children are tragically learning to live 
without one of their parents. And the rest of us are learning to live in 
a world that seems very different than it was on September the 10th.
    The moment the second plane hit the second building--when we knew it 
was a terrorist attack--many felt that our lives would never be the 
same. What we couldn't be sure of then and what the terrorists never 
expected was that America would emerge stronger, with a renewed spirit 
of pride and patriotism.
    I said in my speech to a Joint Session of Congress that we are a 
nation awakened to danger. We're also a nation awakened to service and 
citizenship and compassion. 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 2 months, we have shown the world America is a great 
nation. Americans have responded magnificently, with courage and caring. 
We've seen it in our children, who have sent in more than $1 million for 
the children of Afghanistan. We have seen it in the compassion of Jewish 
and Christian Americans who have reached out

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to their Muslim neighbors. We have seen it as Americans have reassessed 
priorities, parents spending more time with their children and many 
people spending more time in prayer and in houses of worship.
    We have gained new heroes: those who ran into burning buildings to 
save others, our police and our firefighters; those who battled their 
own fears to keep children calm and safe, America's teachers; those who 
voluntarily placed themselves in harm's way to defend our freedom, the 
men and women of the Armed Forces.
    And tonight we join in thanking a whole new group of public servants 
who never enlisted to fight a war but find themselves on the frontlines 
of a battle nonetheless: those who deliver the mail, America's postal 
workers. We also thank those whose quick response provided preventative 
treatment that has no doubt saved thousands of lives, our health care 
    We are a different country than we were on September the 10th, 
sadder and less innocent, stronger and more united, and in the face of 
ongoing threats, determined and courageous.
    Our Nation faces a threat to our freedoms, and the stakes could not 
be higher. We are the target of enemies who boast they want to kill--
kill all Americans, kill all Jews, and kill all Christians. We've seen 
that type of hate before, and the only possible response is to confront 
it and to defeat it.
    This new enemy seeks to destroy our freedom and impose its views. We 
value life; the terrorists ruthlessly destroy it. We value education; 
the terrorists do not believe women should be educated or should have 
health care or should leave their homes. We value the right to speak our 
minds; for the terrorists, free expression can be grounds for execution. 
We respect people of all faiths and welcome the free practice of 
religion; our enemy wants to dictate how to think and how to worship, 
even to their fellow Muslims.
    This enemy tries to hide behind a peaceful faith. But those who 
celebrate the murder of innocent men, women, and children have no 
religion, have no conscience, and have no mercy.
    We wage a war to save civilization, itself. We did not seek it, but 
we will fight it, and we will prevail.
    This is a different war from any our Nation has ever faced, a war on 
many fronts, against terrorists who operate in more than 60 different 
countries. And this is a war that must be fought not only overseas but 
also here at home. I recently spoke to high school students in Maryland 
and realized that for the first time ever, these seniors will graduate 
in the midst of a war in our own country. We have entered a new era, and 
this new era requires new responsibilities, both for the Government and 
for our people.
    The Government has a responsibility to protect our citizens, and 
that starts with homeland security. The first attack against America 
came by plane, and we are now making our airports and airplanes safer. 
We have posted the National Guard in America's airports and placed 
undercover air marshals on many flights. I call on Congress to quickly 
send me legislation that makes cockpits more secure, baggage screening 
more thorough, and puts the Federal Government in charge of all airport 
screening and security.
    The second attack against America came in the mail. We do not know 
whether this attack came from the same terrorists. We don't know the 
origin of the anthrax, but whoever did this unprecedented and 
uncivilized act is a terrorist.
    Four Americans have now died from anthrax, out of a total of 17 
people who have been infected. The Postal Service has processed more 
than 30 billion pieces of mail since September the 11th, and so far 
we've identified three different letters that contained anthrax. We can 
trace the source of infection for all but one of the individuals, and we 
are still trying to learn how a woman who died in New York was exposed.
    I'm proud of the way our health care and postal workers--and the 
American people--are responding with calm in the face of this deadly new 
threat. Public health officials have acted quickly to distribute 
preventative antibiotics to thousands of people who may have been 
exposed. The Government is purchasing and storing medicines and vaccines 
as a precaution against future attacks. We are

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cleaning facilities where anthrax has been detected and purchasing 
equipment to sanitize the mail. Thousands of law enforcement officials 
are aggressively investigating this bioterrorism attack, and public 
health officials are distributing the most accurate, up-to-date 
information we have to medical professionals and to the public.
    To coordinate our efforts we've created the new Office of Homeland 
Security. Its Director, my good friend and former Governor Tom Ridge, 
reports directly to me and works with all our Federal agencies, State 
and local governments, and the private sector on a national strategy to 
strengthen our homeland protections. For example, the Coast Guard has 
taken on expanded duties to protect our shores and our ports. The 
National Guard has increased--an increased role in surveillance at our 
border. We're imposing new licensing requirements for safer 
transportation of hazardous material.
    We've passed a new antiterrorism law which gives our law enforcement 
officers the necessary tools to track terrorists before they harm 
Americans. A new terrorism task force is tightening immigration controls 
to make sure no one enters or stays in our country who would harm us. We 
are a welcoming country. We will always value freedom. Yet we will not 
allow those who plot against our country to abuse our freedoms and our 
    Our enemies have threatened other acts of terror. We take each 
threat seriously, and when we have evidence of credible threats, we will 
issue appropriate alerts. A terrorism alert is not a signal to stop your 
life. It is a call to be vigilant, to know that your Government is on 
high alert, and to add your eyes and ears to our efforts to find and 
stop those who want to do us harm.
    A lot of people are working really hard to protect America. But in 
the long run, the best way to defend our homeland, the best way to make 
sure our children can live in peace is to take the battle to the enemy 
and to stop them.
    I have called our military into action to hunt down the members of 
the Al Qaida organization who murdered innocent Americans. I gave fair 
warning to the Government that harbors them in Afghanistan. The Taliban 
made a choice to continue hiding terrorists, and now they are paying a 
    I'm so proud of our military. Our military is pursuing its mission. 
We are destroying training camps, disrupting communications, and 
dismantling air defenses. We are now bombing Taliban frontlines. We are 
deliberately and systematically hunting down these murderers, and we 
will bring them to justice.
    Throughout this battle, we adhere to our values. Unlike our enemy, 
we respect life. We do not target innocent civilians. We care for the 
innocent people of Afghanistan, so we continue to provide humanitarian 
aid, even while their Government tries to steal the food we send. When 
the terrorists and their supporters are gone, the people of Afghanistan 
will say with the rest of the world: Good riddance.
    We are at the beginning of our efforts in Afghanistan, and 
Afghanistan is only the beginning of our efforts in the world. No group 
or nation should mistake Americans' intentions: Where terrorist groups 
exist of global reach, the United States and our friends and allies will 
seek it out, and we will destroy it.
    After September the 11th, our Government assumed new 
responsibilities to strengthen security at home and track down our 
enemies abroad. And the American people are accepting new 
responsibilities, as well.
    I recently received a letter from a fourth grade girl that seemed to 
say it all. ``I don't know how to feel,'' she said, ``sad, mad, angry. 
It has been different lately. I know the people in New York are scared 
because of the World Trade Center and all, but if we're scared, we are 
giving the terrorists all the power.'' In the face of this great 
tragedy, Americans are refusing to give terrorists the power. Our people 
have responded with courage and compassion, calm and reason, resolve and 
fierce determination. We have refused to live in a state of panic or a 
state of denial. There is a difference between being alert and being 
intimidated, and this great nation will never be intimidated.
    People are going about their daily lives, working and shopping and 
playing, worshiping at churches and synagogues and

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mosques, going to movies and to baseball games. [Laughter] Life in 
America is going forward, and as the fourth grader who wrote me knew, 
that is the ultimate repudiation of terrorism.
    And something even more profound is happening across our country. 
The enormity of this tragedy has caused many Americans to focus on the 
things that have not changed, the things that matter most in life: our 
faith, our love for family and friends, our commitment to our country 
and to our freedoms and to our principles.
    In my Inaugural Address, I asked our citizens to serve their Nation, 
beginning with their neighbors. This fall, I had planned a new 
initiative called Communities of Character, designed to spark a rebirth 
of citizenship and character and service. The events of September the 
11th have caused that initiative to happen on its own, in ways we could 
never have imagined.
    Flags are flying everywhere, on houses, in store windows, on cars 
and lapels. Financial donations to the victims' families have reached 
more than a billion dollars. Countless Americans gave blood in the 
aftermath of the attacks. New Yorkers opened their homes to evacuated 
neighbors. We are waiting patiently in long security lines. Children 
across America have organized lemonade and cookie sales for children in 
    And we can do more. Since September the 11th, many Americans, 
especially young Americans, are rethinking their career choices. They're 
being drawn to careers of service, as police or firemen, emergency 
health workers, teachers, counselors, or in the military. And this is 
good for America.
    Many ask, ``What can I do to help in our fight?'' The answer is 
simple. All of us can become a September-the-11th volunteer by making a 
commitment to service in our own communities. So you can serve your 
country by tutoring or mentoring a child, comforting the afflicted, 
housing those in need of shelter and a home. You can participate in your 
Neighborhood Watch or Crime Stoppers. You can become a volunteer in a 
hospital, emergency medical, fire, or rescue unit. You can support our 
troops in the field and, just as importantly, support their families 
here at home by becoming active in the USO or groups in communities near 
our military installations.
    We also will encourage service to country by creating new 
opportunities within the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs for public 
safety and public health efforts. We'll ask State and local officials to 
create a new modern civil defense service similar to local volunteer 
fire departments, to respond to local emergencies when the manpower of 
governments is stretched thin. We will find ways to train and mobilize 
more volunteers to help when rescue and health emergencies arise.
    Americans have a lot to offer, so I've created a task force to 
develop additional ways people can get directly involved in this war 
effort, by making our homes and neighborhoods and schools and workplaces 
safer. And I call on all Americans to serve by bettering our communities 
and, thereby, defy and defeat the terrorists.
    Our great nation--national challenge is to hunt down the terrorists 
and strengthen our protection against future attacks. Our great national 
opportunity is to preserve forever the good that has resulted. Through 
this tragedy, we are renewing and reclaiming our strong American values.
    Both Laura and I were touched by a recent newspaper article that 
quoted a little 4-year-old girl, who asked a telling and innocent 
question. Wondering how terrorists could hate a whole nation of people 
they don't even know, she asked, ``Why don't we just tell them our 
names?'' [Laughter] Well, we can't tell them all our names, but together 
we can show them our values.
    Too many have the wrong idea of Americans as shallow, materialistic 
consumers who care only about getting rich or getting ahead. But this 
isn't the America I know. Ours is a wonderful nation, full of kind and 
loving people, people of faith who want freedom and opportunity for 
people everywhere. One way to defeat terrorism is to show the world the 
true values of America through the gathering momentum of a million acts 
of responsibility and decency and service.
    I'm encouraging schoolchildren to write letters of friendship to 
Muslim children in different countries. Our college students and

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those who travel abroad for business or vacation can all be ambassadors 
of American values. Ours is a great story, and we must tell it, through 
our words and through our deeds.
    I came to Atlanta today to talk about an all-important question: How 
should we live in the light of what has happened? We all have new 
    Our Government has a responsibility to hunt down our enemies, and we 
will. Our Government has a responsibility to put needless partisanship 
behind us and meet new challenges: better security for our people, and 
help for those who have lost jobs and livelihoods in the attacks that 
claimed so many lives. I made some proposals to stimulate economic 
growth which will create new jobs and make America less dependent on 
foreign oil. And I ask Congress to work hard and put a stimulus plan 
into law to help the American people.
    Our citizens have new responsibilities. We must be vigilant. 
Obviously, we must inspect our mail and stay informed on public health 
matters. We will not give in to exaggerated fears or passing rumors. We 
will rely on good judgment and good, old common sense. We will care for 
those who have lost loved ones and comfort those who might at times feel 
    We will not judge fellow Americans by appearance, ethnic background, 
or religious faith. We will defend the values of our country, and we 
will live by them. We will persevere in this struggle, no matter how 
long it takes to prevail.
    Above all, we will live in a spirit of courage and optimism. Our 
Nation was born in that spirit, as immigrants yearning for freedom 
courageously risked their lives in search of greater opportunity. That 
spirit of optimism and courage still beckons people across the world who 
want to come here. And that spirit of optimism and courage must guide 
those of us fortunate enough to live here.
    Courage and optimism led the passengers on Flight 93 to rush their 
murderers to save lives on the ground--led by a young man whose last 
known words were the Lord's Prayer and ``Let's roll.'' He didn't know he 
had signed on for heroism when he boarded the plane that day. Some of 
our greatest moments have been acts of courage for which no one could 
have ever prepared.
    We will always remember the words of that brave man, expressing the 
spirit of a great country. We will never forget all we have lost and all 
we are fighting for. Ours is the cause of freedom. We've defeated 
freedom enemies before, and we will defeat them again.
    We cannot know every turn this battle will take. Yet we know our 
cause is just and our ultimate victory is assured. We will, no doubt, 
face new challenges. But we have our marching orders: My fellow 
Americans, ``Let's roll.''

Note: The President spoke at 8:03 p.m. at the World Congress Center. In 
his address, he referred to Kathy Nguyen, a New York City hospital 
worker who died October 31 of inhalation anthrax; and Todd Beamer, a 
passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 93 when it was hijacked and 
crashed in Somerset, PA, on September 11.


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