the USA Freedom Corps
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
January 30, 2002
3:15 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much for such a warm, North Carolina welcome.
(Applause.) I hope I didn't keep you up too late last night. (Laughter.) I usually
get to bed about 9:00 p.m. -- but I obviously had something to say. (Applause.)
I said that even though we're at war, even though we're at recession, the state
of our union has never been stronger. (Applause.)
And I know why. And the reason why is because we're a nation of strong Americans.
It is such an honor to be the President of such a fabulous country. And I'm
proud to be here with you to share some of my thoughts and hopes and concerns.
Before I begin, I want to thank your Chief, she has done a fabulous job. I loved
it when the men and women who wear the blue stood up when the Chief came out
and led the round of applause. It shows that she knows how to lead. So, Chief,
thank you for being here and thank you for honoring me with your presence. (Applause.)
I'm proud that Tom Ridge is traveling with me today. He and I were governors
together. (Applause.) Never did I dream that I'd ask him to come and serve in
an important capacity -- and that is to protect our homeland -- because we never
thought we'd be attacked. But we have been. And now it's time for this country
to respond in a positive way, and I am so proud of the effort he is leading
to secure the homeland of the United States of America.
I'm also glad Allbaugh is here. Obviously, I didn't pick him because he's pretty.
(Laughter.) He's got a face only his mother would love -- (laughter) -- if she
stretches it. (Laughter.) But I've known him for a long time. He was with me
in Texas. He understands how to manage an organization. And the organization
he manages is FEMA, so that if there ever is an emergency in Winston-Salem,
North Carolina, you'll get the absolute best service from your federal government.
I want to thank both members for being here, both men for being here today.
I flew down on the airplane today with some distinguished members of the North
Carolina congressional delegation. First, a true gentlemen -- and somebody,
every time I sees him, talks about North Carolina in the most glowing terms,
and that's Senator Jesse Helms. (Applause.)
And then we let somebody from Hickory, North Carolina travel with us. (Applause.)
Old Cass Ballenger. I appreciate you being here, Cass. (Applause.) Congressman
Mel Watt is with us today, too. Thank you, Congressman, for coming; honored
you're here. (Applause.)
My first meeting was in his district, and then I crossed the line and came into
Richard Burr's district, Congressman Richard Burr. (Applause.) Richard told
me that his mother and daddy are here. Where? There you go.
(Applause.) I hope he listens to you, mom. You better tell him. He probably
listens to you about as much as I listen to my mother. (Laughter.) A lot, by
the way. (Laughter.)
I'm also so proud, the other night I invited one of our nation's foremost couples
for dinner. Unfortunately, only the husband could come. We got stuck with the
short straw in this couple, because the wife was here doing hard work in North
Carolina -- the lady who wasn't at dinner was Miss Elizabeth Dole. Thank you
for coming. (Applause.) My hope, of course, is that we'll be able to dine frequently.
(Laughter and applause.)
I'm told your good governor is here -- the Governor of the State of North Carolina,
Mike Easley. (Applause.) I know your mayor is here, because I traveled with
him in the limousine. We had a good visit, newly-elected Mayor Joines of Winston-Salem,
North Carolina. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. (Applause.)
We've got leaders from the state delegation. I know the leader of the Senate
is here on the Republican side; members of the House and the Senate. I'm so
honored you all would take time to come and pay a visit. I
know that we've got people who have made huge sacrifices in their life with
us today, men and women who wear our uniform. We are so grateful for your service
to our community. (Applause.)
I'm told there are some volunteer firefighters here. (Applause.) I'm a proud
contributor to the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department. One of the things I'll
be talking about a little later on is how we can encourage volunteers to help
police and firefighters all across the country.
The volunteer fire departments have already shown how to help. It is made up
of people who understand that in order to make their community, people must
stand up and say, how can I help. So I want to thank all the volunteer firefighters
who are here today. (Applause.)
We're making great progress in our war against terror. We have totally routed
out one of the most repressive governments in the history of mankind, the Taliban.
When I made our announcement last September about our intentions, I said the
evil won't stand. And to nations that feel like they can harbor evil, or support
terrorists, they, too, are just as guilty as a terrorist. We not only made the
message clear, we delivered. (Applause.)
And that's because this patient nation has got a fine, strong United States
military. And this country is going to back them to the hilt in our war against
We're making good progress. We put together a great coalition of nations around
the world, with this message: Either you're with us or you're against us. Either
you're on the side of freedom and justice, or you aren't.
And the good news is most people are beginning to see the wisdom of being on
the side of freedom and justice. (Laughter and applause.)
We're after them. But the good news to report for our side, and the bad news
for the evil, is that we're patient, and we're determined, and we will not stop
until we achieve all our objectives.
The first objective was to hold the Taliban government hostage and to liberate
a people. And this proud nation did so. One of my favorite images was to see
liberated women and children with joy on their faces, thanks to the United States
We haven't forgot our other objective, and that's bad news for al Qaeda. Our
other objective is to run them down, wherever they hide, and bring them to justice.
Or, as I like to say, get 'em. (Laughter and applause.) It's going to take a
while. There are caves in rugged parts of Afghanistan where these people may
be hiding. But they better not think they can hide forever --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Give 'em what-for, G! (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: -- because our only objective is not al Qaeda; our objective
is broader than one person, or a handful of people. We'll get 'em. We're going
to get 'em.
We're going to bring them to justice, make no mistake about it, my fellow Americans.
(Applause.) But the call is bigger than that. In order to make sure our children
can grow up in a free world, and a civilized world, we must rout out terror
wherever it exists, wherever it hides.
The doctrine that says you're just as guilty as the terrorist applies not only
in Afghanistan, but worldwide. Our mission is to make the world free from terror.
And this mighty country will not tarry, and we will not fail in our love and
our quest for freedom. (Applause.)
I told the people last night that one of the things we discovered in Afghanistan
in the caves was that they've got designs on our homeland still, of course.
We also believe they've trained thousands and thousands of killers that are
around the world. That's why we're not going to rest.
That's why we're going to remind the nations around the world that we can't
rest. We have no choice, and we're not going to.
I also made it clear that if you're a nation that's going to develop weapons
of mass destruction, you, too -- you, too -- are on our radar screen; you, too,
if you've got a history of repression and violence and disregard for human rights
and are developing a weapon of mass destruction -- you, too, are now on notice
that the United States of America will do whatever it takes to defend our security.
And, therefore, the budget I sent to Congress makes a priority for national
defense. Our soldiers deserve the best equipment, the best training, and a pay
raise as we fight this war against terror. (Applause.)
I also want Americans to know that we will do everything we can to secure the
homeland. And, therefore, I submitted a budget that increases homeland security,
increases the monies for homeland security.
Tom Ridge is developing a coordinated strategy that will provide research for
vaccines to fight bioterrorism, that will send more equipment and training money
to first-responders -- those are the police and firefighters all across America.
We'll keep a closer eye on our border. We want to make sure we understand who's
coming in and who's going out.
We want to do everything we can to secure America, to secure our nation. (Applause.)
Part of the initiative I called on will call upon people to help us with the
homeland security, and I will explain that a little later. But you've got to
know that every day your federal government and law enforcement officials are
doing everything we can to find them, to make sure they don't hit us, to protect
the American people.
My most important job is the security of America; is the security of Americans.
I will not rest until we finally win this war on terror, because I understand
the best way to secure America is to find terrorists where they live and bring
them to justice. And that's exactly what this country is going to do. (Applause.)
I also spent some time last night talking about economic security. We're talking
about homeland security, and part of having a secure homeland is to make sure
people can work, that there are jobs available for people who want to work.
And so, on the one hand, I think Congress ought to help those who are unemployed.
But I understand people don't want an unemployment check, they want a steady
paycheck. (Applause.) And so the thing Congress has got to do is create jobs,
jobs for Americans, jobs for people who want to work. (Applause.)
You probably remember the debate on taxes. Thank goodness we cut taxes when
we did. (Applause.) The best way -- the best way to help an economy recover
is to let hard-working people keep more of their money.
When they get more money in their pocket, they spend more money; and as they
spend more money, it helps create jobs. Tax relief is an important way to battle
recession. And for those who want to do away with tax relief -- you don't know
what you're talking about. You don't raise taxes. (Applause.) We don't raise
taxes in the middle of a recession.
We've got to trust people with their own money. I'm not sure what textbook some
of them are reading up there. (Laughter.) But, obviously, it's not the same
one we've been reading here in this room.
I will tell you another way to create jobs, is to open up markets. Listen, our
farmers in America are the best in the world. We've got the best agriculture
If we're the best at something, it seems like we ought to sell it. The more
we can sell, the more jobs there are. The more markets that open for U.S. producers,
the more jobs there will be for U.S. workers.
I'll tell you another way to create jobs, is to have an energy policy; is to
finally get an energy policy that does several things. First of all, if you're
trying to create jobs and you're not sure what the price of energy is going
to be, it makes job creation less certain.
If there's a price spike, it's harder to hire somebody. If there's uncertainty
in supply, it's harder to plan for the future. And, therefore, having an energy
policy makes sense. It makes sense from an economic perspective.
We've got to conserve more; we've got to utilize technology more. But for the
sake of national security, we must find more oil and gas at home to become less
reliant on foreign sources of oil. (Applause.)
I'm proud of the work we did on an education bill. I know a lot of you here
are concerned about your public schools, and so am I.
I want the best, and so do you. I want to make sure every child learns, and
no child gets left behind. We worked well together. I said last night in the
middle of the speech that I was proud to work with Republicans, proud to work
with Democrats. I was even proud of the efforts -- very proud of the efforts
of Ted Kennedy.
Now, I understand in North Carolina -- (laughter) -- and in parts of Texas --
(laughter) -- they may not understand a good conservative Republican like me
saying nice things about liberal Ted Kennedy. (Laughter.)
But I'm going to tell you something -- he cares about public schools like I
do. He, too, doesn't want any child left behind. We set aside our parties and
focused on America and did what was right for the school children of America.
A good job means good education. A good education means good jobs. In order
to have good jobs, you've got to have a good education system.
And so, therefore, we passed a good piece of legislation -- provides more money
for at-risk kids, but also trusts the good people of North Carolina to make
the decisions for the children of North Carolina.
The people who care more about the children who live in Winston-Salem are the
moms and dads and community leaders of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Applause.)
And we've obviously got more to do, and we're going to get a lot done if we
focus on America. If we focus on results. If we don't play the politics of the
old days, where you try to tear the other guy down in order to get ahead. We've
got to get rid of that attitude in Washington. And when we do, the country will
be better off for it. (Applause.)
And that's what the country expects. This country expects the best -- the best.
This country is taking an assessment right now of what's important. The evil
ones thought that we were weak. They didn't understand us. As I say, they were
probably watching too much daytime TV.
(Laughter.) This is a strong nation. This is a compassionate nation. This is
a decent nation. And this is a nation that will not let terrorists change our
way of life.
As a matter of fact, what the terrorists have done has caused us to take an
assessment of what's important. And one of the things of my job is to capture
this new spirit. I had been concerned for too long about a culture that says,
if it feels good, just go ahead and do it.
I believe that this nation is strong enough and focused enough and dedicated
enough to usher in a culture that says, each of us are responsible for the decisions
we make in life. (Applause.)
Part of our responsibility understands that if you happen to be a mom or a dad,
that your most important job will be to love your children with all your heart
and all your soul. (Applause.)
Part of our responsibility is corporate responsibility. And corporate America
must be open about its books and accounting systems -- (applause) -- so that
shareholders and employees know the full truth about what's going on, on balance
Part of being a responsible society -- part of being a responsible society is
for people to love your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.
(Applause.) And part of being a responsible society is to serve your community.
And so my call to America is -- I hope and ask that you serve your community
you live in and your nation by two years of service, 4,000 hours of service
over your lifetime.
Now, many of you do that, I know. And many of you go to your Sunday school class
and figure out ways to help a neighbor in need. Some of you walk across the
street to a shut-in and say, I love you, can I care for you.
Many of you mentor. I hope you keep doing that, that's part of the 4,000 hours
I asked for you to do for your nation, for the good of your community.
Some don't know where to start, and I've got, obviously, a good idea, and that
is for the USA Freedom Corps. It's a chance to serve your nation in three different
ways. One is to be a part of making sure your community is prepared for any
emergency that might happen. I went over with the Chief today earlier and sw
a community collaboration that is very strong and powerful that you have here
in Winston in Salem. You need to be proud of it.
Proud of the fact that your police chief and your fire chief and your mayor,
your emergency responders, the National Guard have developed a -- hospitals
and docs and nurses -- have developed an emergency response plan; a plan that
will help the citizens deal with an emergency, should it occur here in Winston-Salem.
It's an integral part of preparing your community.
By the way, by preparing your community for an emergency, you also leave a legacy
behind that will make your community better. The more the police and fire work
together, the more likely it is your communities will be safe.
But one of the things we're asking is for people to volunteer. Ex-policemen
or ex-firefighters, retired docs or nurses -- make yourself available to be
a part of your emergency response teams in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, or
any other community in North Carolina or the country, for that matter.
A second way that we can serve our community is through AmeriCorps. I want to
expand the size of AmeriCorps by 200,000 volunteers, many of whom will end up
teaching in inner-city schools. I'm going to Atlanta, Georgia, tomorrow to herald
a great program called "Teach For America."
It is a place where youngsters -- or oldsters, for that matter -- who are interested
in serving their community can teach. I can't think of a more noble profession
and a better way to serve your community than teaching. (Applause.)
We're going to expand Senior Corps, as well, to give our seniors a chance to
continue to lend their expertise and judgment and wisdom in the communities
in which they live.
And, finally, I believe that one thing we must do -- and I spent some time talking
about it last night -- was to expand the Peace Corps, revitalize the mission,
encourage the Peace Corps to go into the Islamic world to spread the message
of economic development and really share the compassion of a great nation, and
that is America. These are ways you can help. These are ways that you can be
a part of serving your nation.
Along these lines, I've asked a friend of mine who has served my administration
well, to be a director, the executive director of this USA Freedom Corps. He
is an integral part of our team.
And by taking him off the Domestic Policy Council and putting him in charge
of USA Freedom, I am obviously making a strong commitment to the future of this
organization. He'll be held accountable.
When we say we're going to get more people involved, I'll be asking him on a
regular basis, how're we doing. If we're not doing that well, how come. What
can we do to make it better.
But I'd like you to welcome the new Executive Director, John Bridgeland. (Applause.)
Now, in order to make sure people who want to sign up -- if you listened to
the speech last night, you know, people were saying, well, gosh, that's nice,
he called me to action; where do I look?
Well, here's where. At usafreedomcorps.gov. If you want to find out how you
can join the USA Freedom Corps or, for that matter, figure out how to help to
serve your community outside of the USA Freedom Corps -- because, as I understand,
we've got it tied into websites, for example, the community services in Winston-Salem
-- dial up usafreedomcorps.gov.
Or you can call this number -- it sounds like I'm making a pitch, and I am.
(Laughter.) This is the right thing to do for America. 1-877-USACorps. If somebody
out there is interested in figuring out how to serve, it's 1-877-USACorps.
Now, people ask me all the time, what can I do to help. How can I be a part
-- oh, by the way, I look forward to working with my old rival on this initiative.
One of the things that John McCain spent a lot of time talking about when we
ran against each other, and still spends a lot of time talking about, is service.
He's a man who understood service to his country. He's a man who knows that
America will be better off as we serve our country. And I look forward to working
with Senator McCain and Senator Bayh of Indiana to get this legislation through
People, though, come up to me all the time and say, well, gosh, that's good,
we're winning. I say, we are, and we've got a lot more to do and it's going
to take a while. They say, what can I do to help. You know, you've heard me
talk about this, probably, but I really, truly view this is a conflict between
good and evil. And there really isn't much middle ground -- like none. (Laughter.)
The people we fight are evil people. They have no regard for human life. They
believe in tyranny.
Their history has shown exactly what I'm talking about. Imagine a society where
women are brutalized, children aren't educated, young girls have no chance of
getting an education. It is a backward, barbaric point of view. And those are
the kind of people -- but the people we're after embraced that point of view.
And, obviously, if you want to fight evil, we've figured out a way to do so
militarily. That's one way. But at home, you fight evil with acts of goodness.
You overcome the evil in society by doing something to help somebody. It's the
collection -- what I called last night, the momentum of a million acts of kindness.
That's the collective soul of the country. Millions of acts of kindness and
decency that take place not because of the government, but because this is a
nation of heart, a nation that cares, a nation of fine, fine people.
If people want to fight terror, do something kind for a neighbor. Join the USA
Freedom Corps. Love somebody. Mentor a child. Stand up to evil with acts of
goodness and kindness.
Not only will our country be better, but we'll show the world -- we will show
the world that values, universal values must be respected, and must be adhered
to. And as a result, the world will be more peaceful. History has called us
to action, and action we will take. (Applause.)
It is such an honor -- I want to repeat where I started -- it is such an honor
to be the President of such a great land, to be given the opportunity to lead
a land full of such great people. Fight on, America. I love you. God bless.