By Donna Miles
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2006 – Nearly five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States, America still has enemies determined to harm it because of what it stands for, President Bush will tell the American Legion's annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, today. Bush arrived in Salt Lake City last night, telling Utah National Guardsmen who met him he's looking forward to telling the veterans how much he and the nation appreciate their service. "And I'm going to thank our veterans for setting such a great example for incredibly fine men and women who wear the uniform of the United States military today," he said.
The president expressed special recognition and appreciation to the Guard members and others who serve in the U.S. military. "I can't tell you how proud I am to be the commander in chief of such a fantastic group of men and women," he said. "And I'll make this pledge to you," he said. "Our government will make sure your loved ones have all the support, all the help, all the training necessary to do their job of defending freedom, defending America and spreading liberty that will yield the peace we all want."
Bush acknowledged the road ahead won't be easy. "These are challenging times," the president said, noting that he wishes he could report that all is well in the world. "But there's still an enemy that wants to harm the United States because of what it stands for," he said. "We learned that lesson earlier this month, when because of the good work of our friends in Great Britain, and some of our own help, we stopped a terrorist plot against the United States."
Bush called confronting these terrorists "the challenge of our time" and his single most important duty as president. "And the most important duty of our government is to protect the American people from further attack," he said. The president vowed to stay on the offense to defeat terrorism abroad so Americans don't have to face it at home again. Iraq remains the central front in the terror war, and if the United States and coalition leave Baghdad before the job is finished, "we will have to face the terrorists in our own cities," Bush said. He vowed to stay the course in Iraq and to help its new democracy succeed.
"Victory in Iraq will be a major ideological triumph in the struggle of the 21st century," he said. Bush said he firmly believes the United States will succeed in spreading liberty. "And as we do, we can say that this generation did our duty and laid the foundation of peace for generations to come," he said.
The president's speech to the American Legion today is expected kick off a series of addresses on the global war on terror that will continue through his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 19. The speeches are expected to be a comprehensive look at the state of the war on terror, the intents and capabilities of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and steps the United States has taken to make the nation safer, officials said.
"They're not political speeches," Bush said during remarks yesterday in Little Rock, Ark. "They're speeches about the future of this country, and...to make it clear that if we retreat before the job is done, this nation would become even more in jeopardy." Bush said he's hopeful people won't politicize the issues he addresses. "We have a duty in this country to defeat terrorists," he said. "That's why we'll stay on the offense and bring them to justice before they hurt us. And that's why we'll work to spread liberty in order the spread the peace."