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Bush Honors First US President


President Bush is urging Americans to find inspiration in the life of George Washington, the nation's first president. VOA White House Correspondent Paula Wolfson reports, Mr. Bush says President Washington's belief in the power of freedom is as important now as it was centuries ago.

On a frigid February morning, the 43rd president of the United States paid tribute to the first.

"We find the best of America in his spirit, and our highest hopes for ourselves in his character," the president said.

Standing on the grounds of George Washington's beloved home, Mt. Vernon, President Bush spoke of the man known as "the father of his country."

"His honesty and courage have become the stuff of legend. Children are taught to revere his name, and leaders to look to him for strength in uncertain times," he said.

The occasion was President's Day - a day set aside in the United States to honor two men who led the nation in trying times: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

This year also marks President Washington's 275th birthday. George Washington was a central figure in America's fight for independence from Britain, first as a soldier and then as a statesman. President Bush said, throughout his life, George Washington was a firm believer in the universality of freedom.

"Today, we are fighting a new war to defend our liberty and our people and our way of life," Mr. Bush said. "And as we work to advance the cause of freedom around the world, we remember that the father of our country believed that the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone."

Mt. Vernon sits along the Potomac River across from the capital city that bears George Washington's name. He is buried on the grounds of the farm, which has been restored, and now hosts about a million visitors a year.