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Amid grief, Bush gives warning

By SARA FRITZ, Times Washington Bureau Chief

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2002


WASHINGTON -- President Bush, as he ended a day of remembrance for last year's dead and prepared for a new phase in his war against terrorism, reminded the American people Wednesday night that the United States still has "determined enemies" in the world.

WASHINGTON -- President Bush, as he ended a day of remembrance for last year's dead and prepared for a new phase in his war against terrorism, reminded the American people Wednesday night that the United States still has "determined enemies" in the world.

"The milestone is passed," Bush said, referring to the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, "and a mission goes on."

Bush delivered his brief, televised remarks from Ellis Island at the conclusion of a 13-hour marathon trip that took him to the Pentagon, Shanksville, Pa., and ground zero in New York City. At each stop, Bush hugged grieving relatives and autographed their photos and programs.

Today, the president is scheduled to deliver a historic speech at the United Nations in which he will argue in favor of a pre-emptive military strike on Iraq, a country believed to be fomenting terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction.

The president did not mention Iraq or Saddam Hussein during his Ellis Island speech, which he delivered with the Statue of Liberty illuminated in the background. But he did express his resolve to continue the battle against terrorism, and indicated he expected the assistance of other nations.

"Our nation is patient and steadfast," he declared. "We continue to pursue the terrorists in cities and camps and caves across the earth. We are joined by a great coalition of nations to rid the world of terror. And we will not allow any terrorist or tyrant to threaten civilization with weapons of mass murder."

Over the past year, he said, all Americans have endured pain of one kind or another.

"For those who lost loved ones, it has been a year of sorrow, of empty places, of newborn children who will never know their fathers here on earth," he said. "For members of our military, it has been a year of sacrifice, and service far from home.

"For all Americans, it has been a year of adjustment -- of coming to terms with the difficult knowledge that our nation has determined enemies and that we are not invulnerable to their attacks."

Bush, first lady Laura Bush and White House staff members began the anniversary at St. John's Episcopal Church, a block from the White House, where the Rev. Dr. Luis Leon told them they could rely on God for strength in times of trouble.

Then the president went to the Pentagon, where the damage of the Sept. 11 attack had been repaired.

"What happened to our nation on a September day set in motion the first great struggle of a new century," Bush told the Pentagon crowd. "The enemies who struck us are determined, and they are resourceful. They will not be stopped by a sense of decency or a hint of conscience -- but they will be stopped."

In Pennsylvania, Bush laid a wreath on the spot where one of the hijacked planes crashed, apparently after being diverted by passengers from its intended target in Washington.

Relatives of the victims repeatedly thanked the president for attending their memorial service.

"It was poignant, and it was very touching," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.

Likewise, while visiting the massive hole in the ground where the World Trade Center towers once stood in New York City, Bush seemed to enjoy the company of the relatives. He patiently took time to speak with every person who approached him after the memorial service.

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