Presidential Radio Address - 10 September 2005
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. On Sunday, our nation will observe the fourth anniversary of the September the 11th terrorist attacks. Every American has memories of that day that will never leave them. We remember the images of fire and terror at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania, and in the heart of New York City.
We remember the ruthlessness of those who murdered the innocent and took joy in their suffering. We remember the courage of the police and firefighters and rescue personnel who rushed into burning buildings to save lives, knowing they might never emerge. And we remember the victims -- moms and dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives -- and the loved ones they left behind.
As night fell on America on September the 11th, 2001, we felt grief and great sorrow. Yet we also saw that, while the terrorists could kill the innocent, they could not defeat the spirit of our nation. The despair and tragedy of that day were overcome by displays of selflessness, courage and compassion.
And in the days and weeks that followed, America answered history's call to bring justice to our enemies and to ensure the survival and success of liberty. And that mission continues today.
Four years later, Americans remember the fears and uncertainty and confusion of that terrible morning. But above all, we remember the resolve of our nation to defend our freedom, rebuild a wounded city, and care for our neighbors in need.
Today, America is confronting another disaster that has caused destruction and loss of life. This time the devastation resulted not from the malice of evil men, but from the fury of water and wind.
Hurricane Katrina flattened entire towns along our Gulf Coast, and left one of America's most storied cities under water. Tens of thousands have lost homes and loved ones and all their earthly possessions. The storm took countless lives and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee from their communities with no assurance of returning soon.
Once more our hearts ache for our fellow citizens, and many are left with questions about the future. Yet we are again being reminded that adversity brings out the best in the American spirit. In this time of great suffering, we have seen the courage and determination of rescue personnel who willingly risk their lives to save the lives of others. We have seen the spirit of America's armies of compassion who have rallied in response to this tragedy. Faith-based organizations and community groups and individual citizens across the country are caring for those affected by the storm, and comforting those whose loved ones are lost or missing. Across our country, Americans are generously opening their homes and hearts to their brothers and sisters in need.
To find out how you can help, I urge you to visit usafreedomcorps.gov, or call 1-877-USA CORPS. The citizens of the Gulf Coast can count on their fellow Americans in this time of trial, and their government is standing with them, as well.
This week I signed legislation providing an additional $52 billion for response and recovery efforts. We have already begun distributing $2,000 in emergency relief to every displaced household, money they can use immediately for food, clothing and other essentials. I have also called for all people from disaster areas to be granted special evacuee status, making it easier for them to collect federal benefits like food stamps and Medicaid wherever they are in America.
We are assisting the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and we will help the people of the Gulf Coast recover from adversity. Despite all they've endured, the people of that region are determined to rebuild their homes and reclaim their lives, and their fellow Americans are determined to help them. To accomplish the difficult work ahead of us, our nation will call upon our vast resources and the ingenuity of our citizens, and these will be required in full measure.
Our greatest resource in such times is the compassionate character of the American people, because even the most destructive storm cannot weaken the heart and soul of our nation. America will overcome this ordeal, and we will be stronger for it.
Even in the deepest darkness, we can see the light of hope, and the light shows us the way forward. We will honor the memory of those we have lost; we will comfort the victims of Katrina; and we will make the Gulf Coast more vibrant than ever.
In all that lies before us, may God watch over the United States of America. Thank you for listening.