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The 18th Anniversary of 911

Today is the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attacks on New York City and on the Pentagon in Washington, DC. They occurred when President George W. Bush was in Sarasota, Florida. He was told about the attacks when he was reading to a group of elementary school students.

911

Bush continued reading to the children for several minutes after receiving the news. He was later interviewed for a documentary on the National Geographic Channel in which he said "it was like watching a silent movie. In the back of the room, reporters were on their cell phones. They were getting the same message I got. Which meant that a lot of people would be watching my reactions to these crises." He said that his first reaction was "anger, who the hell would do that to America?" But he said that he "made the decision not to jump up immediately. I didn't want to rattle the kids. I wanted to project a sense of calm."

Following is a timeline of President Bush's activities that day:

9 a.m. – President Bush arrives at a Sarasota, Florida school for speech. White House chief of staff Andrew Card tells him a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center.

9:05 a.m. – Bush is visiting a second-grade class when Card whispers to him that a second plane has struck the towers. President delays plans to address the tragedy, deciding to get more information first.

9:30 a.m. – Bush meets privately with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who briefs him. He delivers first remarks on the tragedy.

10 a.m. – Aboard Air Force One en route to Louisiana, Bush calls Vice President Dick Cheney and puts America's military on a high alert status. Sifts through reports from staff, including erroneous report that a car bomb had struck the State Department. Gets news that plane has crashed near Pittsburgh.

11:40 a.m. – Bush arrives at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., where he makes series of telephone calls from a general's conference room. Tells Cheney in telephone call, "It's the faceless coward that attacks." He also talks to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and New York Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.

1:15 p.m. – Bush departs conference room for Air Force One in a camouflaged Humvee. Talks to Cheney again en route to Nebraska air force base and schedules a 4 p.m. meeting of his national security staff. Also talks to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki. "I know your heart is broken and your city is strained and anything we can do, let me know," Bush says.

3:07 p.m. – Bush arrives at U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

4:36 p.m. – Bush departs for Washington. En route, he calls first lady Laura Bush and says, "I'm coming home, see you at the White House." Works with aides on his prime-time speech.

7 p.m. – Bush arrives at White House to prepare for address.

8:30 p.m. – Bush speaks to nation.

8:35 p.m. – Bush attends national security meeting.

10:21 p.m. – Meeting has ended. Secret Service radio squawks with news that Bush has gone home to bed: "Trailblazer. Second floor of the residence."



Following is the text of Bush's remarks to the nation that evening, followed by a YouTube video of them:

Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors.

Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of 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.

These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.

Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.

America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.

Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature, and we responded with the best of America, with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it's prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington, D.C., to help with local rescue efforts.

Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks.

The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business as well.

The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources for our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance.

America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world and we stand together to win the war against terrorism.

Tonight I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me."

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time.

None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

Thank you. Good night and God bless America.


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