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Sept. 11 a 'Fixed Point in American Life,' Says President Bush - 2002-09-12

President Bush spoke to the nation Wednesday evening, closing a day of remembering the more than 3,000 people killed in last September's terrorist attack. The president spoke from New York City where he and Mrs. Bush met with the families of those who died in the World Trade Center.

President Bush said it is painful for the nation to relive the anguish of last September 11, that Americans have spent the year coming to terms with the fact that the country is vulnerable to the attacks of determined enemies.

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

With the Statue of Liberty behind him, the president said last year's attacks have forever changed the way Americans look at their lives and decide what is important.

"September 11, 2001, will always be a fixed point in the life of America. The loss of so many lives left us to examine our own. Each of us was reminded that we are here only for a time, and these counted days should be filled with things that last and matter: love for our families, love for our neighbors, and for our country," he said.

In honoring those lost, Mr. Bush said the most enduring monument would be a world of liberty and security. The president said he has no intention of ignoring or appeasing what he calls "history's latest gang of fanatics trying to murder their way to power."

Without mentioning Iraq by name, Mr. Bush repeated his call for action against those who he said threaten the world with chemical and biological weapons.

"We will not allow any terrorist or tyrant to threaten civilization with weapons of mass murder. Now and in the future, Americans will live as free people, not in fear, and never at the mercy of any foreign plot or power," Mr. Bush said.

The president again sought to reassure Arab allies that the fight against terrorism, and his call for action against the Iraqi leader, is not a fight against Islam.

He said Americans respect the faith of Islam even as they fight those who he said defile it. Mr. Bush said the nation fights not to impose its will but to defend itself and to extend the blessings of freedom.