[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George W. Bush (2001, Book II)]
[November 11, 2001]
[Pages 1386-1387]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 1386]]

Remarks at a Veterans Day Prayer Breakfast in New York City
November 11, 2001

    The President. Thank you very much. At ease.
    Audience member. Let's roll!
    The President. Let's roll.
    Thank you so much, Commissioner. I'm so 
pleased to be back in New York City to pay honor to our veterans, those 
from the New York State and New York City area and those all around 
America. It's such an honor to say on behalf of the American people, 
thanks for your service.
    It's such an honor to be in the presence of Cardinal Egan, a man who brings such comfort and solace to 
those who mourn and hope to those of us who live. So, Cardinal Egan, 
thank you so much for your leadership and your strength.
    And also, I am so pleased and thrilled to be with my friend the 
Governor, who is doing a fabulous job for 
the people of New York.
    And you know something, I'm going down to Crawford next Wednesday--
that's Crawford, Texas, that is. There you go. [Laughter] And there's a 
new household name down there: Rudy. What 
a great job Rudy has done. He's done a fabulous job. And I agree with 
Rudy; he's being replaced by a really good man, Michael 
Bloomberg. Michael, good luck. Congratulations, and we appreciate you 
    Leo, thank you for being here. You 
represent the best of those who came from the private sector to serve 
our Government. I want to thank you for your leadership at the VA.
    I also want to recognize a person who I became friends with in a 
very difficult moment, and that's Ms. Arlene 
Howard. Arlene, would you stand up for a second, please? [Applause] Good 
to see you, Arlene. Arlene is a veteran. She served in the United States 
Navy, as did her late husband, Robert. And she's a veteran of September 
the 11th in a sad way. Her son George was at the World Trade Center. She 
gave me something that I showed the Nation a while ago, the badge of 
George. It's a reminder of the wrong done to our country, Arlene. Thank 
you for that reminder. It is also a reminder of the great purpose of our 
great land, and that is to rid this world of evil and terror.
    The evil ones have roused a mighty nation, a mighty land. And for 
however long it takes, I am determined that we will prevail. And prevail 
we must, because we fight for one thing, and that is the freedom of our 
people and the freedom of people everywhere.
    And I want to thank the commissioner, 
who is a veteran as well--a veteran in the military and a veteran of a 
new kind of war, one fought here on the homefront. He represents the 
fabulous men and women who wear the uniform of the police and fire and 
rescue units, the Port Authority here in New York City, people who serve 
with such distinction and such courage that whenever an American hears 
the word ``police'' or ``fire,'' we think differently. We think 
differently about the job. We think differently about the character of 
those who serve on a daily basis. We think differently about those who 
go to work every single day to protect us and save us and comfort us. 
What a noble profession the commissioner represents, and what a great 
job he's done for New York City.
    And in a time of war, we look a little differently at our veterans, 
too. We pay tributes on Veterans Day, today, and they're made with a 
little greater feeling, because Americans have seen the terrible harm 
that an enemy can inflict. And it has left us deeply grateful for the 
men and women who rise strongly in the defense of our Nation. We 
appreciate the sacrifices

[[Page 1387]]

that our military is making today. We appreciate the sacrifices that 
their families make with them.
    When the call comes to defend our country, our military is ready and 
is making us proud. Al Qaida and the Taliban have made a serious 
mistake. And because our military is brave and prepared and courageous, 
they will pay a serious price.
    America has always needed such bravery and such people, and we have 
always found them amongst us. Generations of our service men and women 
have not only fought for our country in the past; they have upheld our 
honorable traditions and represented our country with courage and honor. 
And wherever our military has gone, they have brought pride to our own 
people and hope to millions of others.
    One veteran of World War II recalled the spirit of the American 
military and the relief it brought to suffering peoples. ``America,'' he 
said, ``has sent the best of her young men around the world, not to 
conquer but to liberate, not to terrorize but to help.''
    And this is true in Afghanistan today. And this has always been true 
of the men and women who have served our Nation. This Nation is 
freedom's home and freedom's defender. And we owe so much--so much--to 
the men and women, our veterans, who step forward to protect those 
    Our veterans gave America some of the best years of their lives and 
stood ready to give life itself. For all that, America's 25 million 
veterans have the deep respect of their fellow citizens and the enduring 
gratitude of a nation they so nobly served.
    May God bless our veterans, and may God continue to bless America.

Note: The President spoke at 8:50 a.m. at the Park Avenue Seventh 
Regiment Armory. In his remarks, he referred to Commissioner Bernard B. 
Kerik, New York Police Department; Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of 
New York; Gov. George E. Pataki of New York; Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani 
and Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg of New York City; and Deputy Secretary 
of Veterans Affairs Leo S. Mackay, Jr.