at Veterans Day Prayer Breakfast
Park Avenue Seventh Regiment Armory
New York, New York
November 11, 2001
8:50 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. At ease.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Let's roll!
THE PRESIDENT: Let's roll. (Applause.)
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. (Applause.)
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.
I also am so pleased and thrilled to be with my friend, the Governor, who is
doing a fabulous job for the people of New York. (Applause.)
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. (Applause.) 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 running. (Applause.)
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. (Applause.) It is also a reminder of the great purpose of our great
land, and that is to rid this world of evil and terror. (Applause.)
The evil ones have roused a might 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. (Applause.)
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
home front. 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. (Applause.)
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 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. (Applause.) Al Qaeda and the Taliban have made a serious mistake.
And because our military is brave and prepared and courageous, they will pay
a serious price. (Applause.)
America has always needed such bravery and such people, and we have always found
them amongst us. Generations of our servicemen 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 freedoms. (Applause.)
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. (Applause.)