President Bush made a broadcast speech to the nation Tuesday evening. He resolved the United States would stand firm against terrorism.
The President looked grim as he addressed the American people from the Oval Office. He said thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable terror.
"The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet unyielding anger," the president said.
On Tuesday morning, two hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center in New York City. A short time later, another hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon. President Bush called the attacks "acts of mass murder" designed to frighten America into chaos and retreat. But he pledged they will not be successful.
"Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America," Mr. Bush said. "These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve."
The President said the people of the United States will grieve, but life will go on. He said the functions of government will continue without interruption as the search for the terrorists proceeds.
"I have directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice," said the president. "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."
Mr. Bush learned of the attacks while in Florida to deliver a speech on education. He hastily put that address aside and planned to return to Washington.
But his plane was diverted for hours, as members of his security detail put in place a plan to keep the President out of harm's way. His jumbo jet traveled instead to airbases in Louisiana and Nebraska, before finally returning to the nation's capital in the early evening hours.
The White House was evacuated until just moments before his arrival, along with most other government buildings.
In his address to the nation, the President stressed all federal offices - including his own - will be open for business as usual on Wednesday.