PRESIDENT BUSH'S HISTORIC WORDS…Sept 22 2001
IN the normal course of events, presidents come to this chamber to report on the
state of the Union. Tonight, no such report is needed; it has already been delivered
by the American people.
We have seen it in the courage of passengers who rushed terrorists to save others on
the ground. Passengers like an exceptional man named Todd Beamer. And would
you please help me welcome his wife Lisa Beamer here tonight.
We have seen the state of our union in the endurance of rescuers working past
exhaustion. We've seen the unfurling of flags, the lighting of candles, the giving of
blood, the saying of prayers in English, Hebrew and Arabic.
We have seen the decency of a loving and giving people who have made the grief
of strangers their own.
My fellow citizens, for the last nine days, the entire world has seen for itself the state
of our Union, and it is strong. Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and
called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution.
Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will
I thank the Congress for its leadership at such an important time. All of America was
touched on the evening of the tragedy to see Republicans and Democrats joined
together on the steps of this Capitol singing God Bless America.
And you did more than sing. You acted, by delivering $40billion to rebuild our
communities and meet the needs of our military. Speaker Hastert, Minority Leader
Gephardt, Majority Leader Daschle and Senator Lott, I thank you for your
friendship, your leadership and your service to our country.
And on behalf of the American people, I thank the world for its outpouring of
support. America will never forget the sounds of our national anthem playing at
Buckingham Palace, on the streets of Paris and at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.
We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside our embassy in
Seoul, or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in Cairo.
We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in Australia and Africa
and Latin America. Nor will we forget the citizens of 80 other nations who died with
our own. Dozens of Pakistanis, more than 130 Israelis, more than 250 citizens of
India, men and women from El Salvador, Iran, Mexico and Japan, and hundreds of
America has no truer friend than Great Britain. Once again, we are joined together
in a great cause. I'm so honoured the British prime minister has crossed an ocean to
show his unity with America. Thank you for coming, friend.
On September 11, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our
country. Americans have known wars, but for the past 136 years they have been
wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the
casualties of war, but not at the centre of a great city on a peaceful morning.
Americans have known surprise attacks, but never before on thousands of civilians.
All of this was brought upon us in a single day, and night fell on a different world, a
world where freedom itself is under attack.
Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking: "Who attacked our
The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of terrorist organisations
known as al Qaeda. They are some of the murderers indicted for bombing
American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and for bombing the USS Cole.
Al Qaeda is to terror what the Mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money;
its goal is remaking the world and imposing its radical beliefs on people
The terrorists practise a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by
Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics; a fringe movement that
The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all
Americans and make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women
and children. This group and its leader, a person named Osama bin Laden, are
linked to many organisations, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan.
There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries. They are recruited
from their own nations and neighbourhoods and brought to camps in places like
Afghanistan where they are trained in the tactics of terror.
They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to
plot evil and destruction. The leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in
Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In
Afghanistan we see al Qaeda's vision for the world.
Afghanistan's people have been brutalised, many are starving and many have fled.
Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television.
Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate.
A man can be jailed if his beard is not long enough. The United States respects the
people of Afghanistan - we are its largest source of humanitarian aid - but we
condemn the Taliban regime.
It is not only repressing its ownpeople, it is threatening people everywhere by
sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists. By aiding and abetting murder,
the Taliban regime is committing murder.
And tonight the United States of America makes the following demands on the
Taliban. Deliver to United States authorities all of the leaders of Al Qaeda who
hide in your land. Release all foreign nationals you have unjustly imprisoned.
Protect foreign journalists, diplomatsandaidworkersinyour country. Close
immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.
And hand over every terrorist and every person and their support structure to
appropriate authorities. Give the United States full access to terrorist training
camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating. These demands are not
open to negotiation or discussion.
The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists or
they will share in their fate. I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims
throughout the world. We respect your faith.
It's practised freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries
that America counts as friends. Its teachings are goodand peaceful, and those who
commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.
The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying to hijack Islam itself. The enemy
of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends.
Our enemy is a network ofterrorists and every government that supports them. Our
war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there.
It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped
Americans are asking "Why do they hate us?" They hate what they see right here in
this chamber - a democratically elected government. Their leaders are
They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our
freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries such as
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. They want todrive Israel out of the Middle East.
They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa.
These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With
every atrocity, they hope that Americagrows fearful, retreating from the world and
forsaking our friends.
They stand against us because we stand in their way. We're not deceived by their
pretenses to piety. We have seen theirkind before. They're the heirs of all the
murderous ideologies of the 20th Century.
By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value
except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and
totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends in history's
unmarked grave of discarded lies. Americans are asking, "How will we fight and win
We will direct every resource at our command - every means of diplomacy, every
tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence
and every necessary weapon of war - to the destruction and to the defeat of the
global terror network.
This war will not be like the war against Iraqa decade ago, with a decisive
liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above
Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single
American was lost in combat. Our response involves far more than instant
retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a
lengthy campaign unlike any other ever seen.
It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in
We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from
place to place until there is no refuge or no rest.
And we will pursue nations thatprovide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation
in every region now has a decision to make: either you are with us or you are with
From this day, any nation that continues to harbour or support terrorism will be
regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. Our nation has been put on
notice, we're not immune from attack. We will take defensive measures against
terrorism to protect Americans.
Today, dozens of federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local
governments, have responsibilities affecting homeland security. These efforts must
be coordinated at the highest level. So tonight, I announce the creation of a
Cabinet-level position reporting directly to me, the Office of Homeland Security.
And tonight, I also announce a distinguished American to lead this effort, to
strengthen American security: a military veteran, an effective governor, a true
patriot, a trusted friend, Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge.
He will lead, oversee and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to
safeguard our country against terrorism and respond to any attacks that may come.
These measures are essential.
The only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate
it and destroy it where it grows. Many will be involved in this effort, from FBI agents,
to intelligence operatives, to the reservists we have called to active duty.
All deserve our thanks, and all have our prayers. And tonight a few miles from the
damaged Pentagon, I have a message for our military: be ready.I havecalled the
armed forces to alert, and there is a reason.
The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud. This is not,
however, just America's fight. And what is at stake isnot just America's freedom. This
is the world's fight.
This is civilisation's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and
pluralism, tolerance and freedom. We ask every nation to join us. We will ask and
we will need the help of police forces, intelligence services and banking systems
around the world.
The United States is grateful that many nations and many international
organisations have already responded with sympathy and with support, nations from
Latin America to Asia to Africa to Europe to the Islamic world.
Perhaps the Nato charter reflects best the attitude of the world: an attack on one is
an attack on all. The civilised world is rallying toAmerica's side.
They understand that if this terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own
citizens may be next. Terror unanswered can not only bring down buildings, it can
threaten the stability of legitimate governments.
And you know what? We're not going to allow it. Americans are asking: "What is
expected of us?"
I ask you to live your lives and hug your children. I know many citizens have fears
tonight, and I ask you to be calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing
threat. I ask you to uphold the values of America and remember why somany have
come here. We're in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by
them. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of
their ethnic background or religious faith.
I ask you to continue to support the victims of this tragedy with your contributions.
Those who want to give can go to a central source of information, Liberty
unites.org, to find the names of groups providing help in New York, Pennsylvania
The thousands of FBI agents at work in this investigation may need your
cooperation, and I ask you to give it.
I ask for your patience with the delays and inconveniences that may accompany
tighter security, and for your patience in what will be a long struggle.
I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American economy.
Terrorists attacked a symbol of American prosperity; they did not touch its source.
America is successful because of the hard work and creativity and enterprise of our
people. These were the true strengths of our economy before September 11 and
they are our strengths today.
And finally, please continue praying for the victims of terror and their families, for
those in uniform and for our great country.
Prayer has comforted us in sorrow and will help strengthen us for the journey ahead.
Tonight I thank my fellow Americans for what you have already done and for what
you will do. And, ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, I thank you, their
representatives, for what you have already done and for what we will do together.
Tonight we face new and sudden national challenges. We will come together to
improve air safety, to expand the number of air marshals on domestic flights and
take new measures to prevent hijacking.
We will come together to promote stability and keep our airlines flying with direct
assistance during this emergency. We will come together to give law enforcement
the additional tools it needs to track down terror here at home.
We will come together to strengthen our intelligence capabilities to know the plans
of terrorists before they act and to find them before they strike.
We will come together to take active steps that strengthen America's economy and
put our people back to work. Tonight, we welcome two leaders who embody the
extraordinary spirit of all New Yorkers, Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph
As a symbol of America's resolve, my administration will work with Congress and
these two leaders to show the world that we will rebuild New York City.
After all that has just passed, all the lives taken and all the possibilities and hopes
that died with them, it is natural to wonder if America's future is one of fear.
Some speak of an age of terror. I know there are struggles ahead and dangers to
face. But this country will define our times, not be defined by them. As long as the
United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror.
This will be an age of liberty here and across the world.
Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and
anger we have found our mission and our moment.
Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom, the great
achievement of our time and the great hope of every time now depends on us. Our
nation, this generation, will lift the dark threat of violence from our people and our
future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will
not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail.
It is my hope that in the months and years ahead life will return almost to normal.
We'll go back to our lives and routines and that is good. Even grief recedes with
time and grace.
But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day
and to whom it happened. We will remember the moment the news came, where
we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire or story
or rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.
And I will carry this. It is the police shield of a man named George Howard who
died at the World Trade Center trying to save others.
It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. It is my
reminder of lives that ended and a task that does not end.
I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I
will not rest, I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the
American people. The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain.
Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that
God is not neutral between them.
Fellow citizens, we'll meet violence with patient justice, assured of the rightness of
our cause and confident of the victories to come.
In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom and may he watch over the
United States of America. Thank you.