Bush Calls on Americans to Defend Freedom
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2001 President Bush issued a clarion call today for all Americans to shoulder the burden of the defense of freedom following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
Bush issued his call during the noontime National Day of Prayer and Remembrance ceremony at the National Cathedral here.
"America is a nation of good fortune with so much to be grateful for," he said. "But we are not spared from suffering. In every generation, the world has produced enemies of human freedom. They have attacked America because we are freedom's home and defender. And the commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time."
Bush also led the nation in mourning the expected thousands of people lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. "To the children and spouses and families and friends of the lost, we offer the deepest sympathy of the nation," he said.
Bush said American unity is not only that of grief but "a steadfast resolve to prevail against our enemies. And this unity against terror is now extending across the world."
The service was an example of American unity: All faiths, races, political persuasions were one at the more than one- hour-long service. Billy Graham, often called "America's Preacher," touched on this as he delivered the sermon at the service.
"A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart," Graham said. "But instead, it has united us and we have become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way. It has backfired and we are more united than ever before."
"Adversity introduces us to ourselves," Bush said. "This is true of a nation as well." He said the world has seen how America has reacted to adversity.
"We see our national character in rescuers working past exhaustion," he said. "(We see it) in long lines of blood donors, in thousands of citizens who have asked to work and serve in any way possible.
"We have seen our national character in eloquent acts of sacrifice," he continued. "Inside the World Trade Center, one man who could have saved himself stayed until the end at the side of his quadriplegic friend. A priest died giving the last rites to a firefighter. Two office workers, finding a disabled stranger, carried her down 68 floors to safety.
"In these acts and many others, Americans showed a deep commitment to one another and an abiding love for our country."
The service ended with all joining the Navy Chorus in "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
Bush then traveled to New York to see the devastation there and to speak with the rescuers on the scene.