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Bush Lauds Wisconsin First Responders

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2004 – The United States is at war and needs to be "ready on all fronts," President Bush told Wisconsin first responders in Appleton today.

"The first-responder effort and the strategy with the local, state and federal government is really an important part of making sure that we do everything we can to do our solemn duty, which is to protect our fellow citizens from harm," Bush said during a brief stop in the Wisconsin city of about 70,000 people, south of Green Bay.

The size of the United States makes it particularly tough to stop terrorists on U.S. soil, Bush said. That's why it's vital to take the fight to the enemy.

"We're on the hunt," he said. "There's a lot of really fine folks wearing this nation's uniform that are making the world and America more safe and secure."

Bush urged the first responders to thank any relatives in the military "on behalf of the commander in chief for this job they're doing and for the sacrifice that they're making."

The war on terror is different, Bush explained, because the United States isn't fighting traditional military forces. "It's easy to find infantry and airplanes and a flotilla of ships," he said. "It's hard to find people that are so cold- blooded in their murder that they hide in caves and the dark corners of cities.

"But that's what we're going to do," he added. "We're going to find them."

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, taught the U.S. government another lesson: that the United States' remote geography sandwiched between two oceans is not going to protect the nation from terrorist threats, Bush said.

He also defended his decision to take the war on terrorism to Iraq. "I want to remind you that I saw a threat; I looked at the intelligence and saw a threat in Iraq," Bush said, reminding the group that the U.S. Congress and the U.N. Security Council saw a threat in Iraq as well.

He lauded the first responders for their service to their communities and their courage in the face of disasters. "To me, that's the courage of the country which defines us," he said. "But it's also the heart of the country which defines us as well."

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