U.S. President George W. Bush paid tribute yesterday to the more than 5,500 people killed in the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Marking the one-month anniversary of the tragedy, Bush said at a Pentagon memorial service for the victims that they have not died in vain. He said America has been awakened to the evil of terrorism and will use all appropriate means to destroy it.
Washington, 12 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush says those who attacked America one month ago have awakened the nation and given it resolve to destroy international terrorism.
Bush spoke yesterday at a Defense Department memorial service honoring the 189 people who died on 11 September when a hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon. Similar services were held in New York, where two commandeered jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center towers, killing more than 5,000 people.
The Pentagon ceremony took place on the opposite side of the charred building from where terrorists struck one month ago.
Machine gun-toting troops stood guard in camouflage, providing security for the service, which was attended not only by the president and First Lady Laura Bush, but also members of the cabinet, former President Bill Clinton, senators and members of the House of Representatives, relatives of the victims, and thousands of other guests.
Bush said: "On 11 September, great sorrow came to our country, and from that sorrow has come great resolve. Today we are a nation awakened to the evil of terrorism, and determined to destroy it."
Bush said that as America did 60 years ago on the eve of World War II, it is now entering a struggle of uncertain duration. But now, as then, he said, America can be certain of the outcome -- full victory.
"In New York, the terrorists chose as their target a symbol of America's freedom and confidence. Here [in Washington] they struck a symbol of our strength in the world. And the attack on the Pentagon on that day was more symbolic than they knew."
The ceremony included readings from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scripture, and the singing of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," a classic American song of determination during wartime.
Bush praised America's armed forces, which on 7 October began bombing Afghanistan to destroy suspected terrorist-training camps of Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda organization, as well as military installations of the ruling Taliban militia.
"These rulers [Taliban leaders] call themselves holy men, even with their record of drawing money from heroin-trafficking. They consider themselves pious and devout while subjecting women to fierce brutality. The Taliban has allied itself with murderers and gave them shelter, but today, for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, there is no shelter."
Bush pledged all the resources necessary to win the war against terrorism -- every weapon, every means to assure full victory for the United States and the cause of freedom. He said the badly damaged Pentagon building will be repaired brick by brick.
At the same ceremony held under bright sunshine, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the terrorists who masterminded the attacks have assured their own destruction. He called the victims heroes.
Pointing to America's victory in World War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Rumsfeld said:
"In the last century, this building existed to oppose two totalitarian regimes that sought to oppress and to rule other nations. And it is no exaggeration of historical judgment to say that without this building and those who worked here, those two regimes would not have been stopped or thwarted in their oppression of countless millions."
Rumsfeld said those who died in the 11 September attack at the Pentagon sought not to rule but to serve. He said the victims sought not to oppress but to liberate.
Rumsfeld said their act of sacrifice and of others will make it certain that one day millions will be saved from weapons of mass destruction that terrorists might be trying to develop.