Bush Honors 9/11 Victims, Condemns Terrorism
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 12, 2004 President Bush helped break ground March 11 for a memorial honoring victims of the World Trade Center attacks, after reminding America to remain vigilant against terrorism and condemning yet another horrific terrorist incident earlier in the day in Madrid.
The president made no official speech at the solemn groundbreaking ceremony for the new Sept. 11 memorial in East Meadow, N.Y., a Manhattan suburb on Long Island.
The memorial will feature two semitransparent 30-foot aluminum towers, representing the twin towers of the World Trade Center, rising from a reflecting pool. It also will include a wall with the names of 281 victims of the trade center attacks who lived in or had ties to Nassau County, N.Y. Two pieces of steel from the World Trade Center wreckage also will be incorporated in the memorial.
Plans call for the new memorial to be completed within six months, in time for the third anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Earlier in the day during a visit to an auto-parts factory on Long Island, Bush reflected on the psychological and economic consequences of the Sept. 11 attacks. "It was a devastating blow," he said. He praised the people of the United States "because they refused to be intimidated by terrorists and killers" and said the attacks had forced him to make "a tough but necessary decision" to take action in Iraq.
"I looked at the intelligence in Iraq and saw a threat," he said. "The United States Congress looked at the same intelligence; they saw a threat. The United Nations Security Council, right up the road there, looked at the intelligence and it saw a threat
"And so I went to the U.N., and said, look, let's deal with the man," Bush continued. "He needs to reveal, disclose and destroy weapons programs." The president said the world not just the United States spoke, yet Saddam Hussein "chose defiance." Bush said this left him with a critical choice. "Either trust the word of somebody who had deceived the world and had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people, or defend America," he said. "And given that choice, I will defend our country every time."
Bush said the Sept. 11 attacks sent a message that the American people should never forget. "We must deal with threats before they fully materialize," he said. "If you think there's a threat, you must deal with it early, before it is too late. That's the lesson of Sept. 11. It's a lesson people must never forget."
At the White House earlier in the day, Bush condemned the massive, well- coordinated terror strike on Madrid's commuter train system that left nearly 200 dead and wounded more than 1,400.
"We stand strongly with the people of Spain," he said. "I appreciate so very much the Spanish government's fight against terror, their resolute stand against terrorist organizations like the ETA. And the United States stands with them.""