President Champions Nation's 'First Responders'
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2002 A new culture is emerging in America in the aftermath of last year's Sept. 11 terrorist attack, President George W. Bush told police officers and firefighters in New York City today.
The nation's "If it feels good, do it" mentality, Bush said, is being replaced by a new sense of responsibility defined by the brave words, "Let's roll."
"We're understanding more about ourselves as a result of what went on," the president said. "We understand heroism. We understand now what it means to recite a prayer, tell your wife I love you on the phone, and drive a plane in the ground to save others' lives. We're beginning to understand more about sacrifice, personal responsibility."
But that's nothing new for New York City's "bravest and finest," he noted. That's been their ethic long before September 11.
"On the worst day this city has ever known," he said, "we saw some of the finest people New York has ever produced. We mourn every loss. We remember every life. But they will not have died in vain."
Bush traveled to New York Police Department's Command and Control Center to speak about his homeland defense plans, which include strengthening the nation's borders, toughening airport security and defending against bioterrorism. Bush also intends to ensure America's police officers, firefighters and emergency medical teams -- those first on the scene in the event of a terrorist attack. -- are trained and equipped to save lives and limit casualties.
The president's fiscal 2003 budget request includes $3.5 billion to enhance first responders capabilities. Bush told the New Yorkers this "increases the federal commitment to our nation's first responders by more than a thousand percent."
If approved by Congress, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would administer the funds. State and local agencies would use the money to buy equipment, train personnel and plan for contingencies.
The funds would also go toward setting up a system for quickly dispersing federal assistance to states and localities and give them the flexibility use the monies where they are needed most. The funds would also go toward involving all Americans in programs to safeguard their homes, communities, states and the nation. The United States will prevail in the war against terrorism, Bush concluded. "Not only will we prevail militarily in the long run, but we will overcome evil by being a nation that is more compassionate, more decent, more loving to our fellow citizens."