George W. Bush photo

Remarks on Viewing the "Spirit of Louisiana" Firetruck for New York City

December 19, 2001

Gov. Mike Foster. And now, Chief, it's your turn. That's an intro. [Laughter]

President Bush. I guess he meant Commander in Chief. [Laughter]

Governor Foster. I just called you "Chief "; you're big into nicknames. [Laughter]

President Bush. Well, Governor, thanks for coming. You know, I always love Louisiana, and I love the people of Louisiana. And I always knew the people of Louisiana were a little different—[laughter]—in a good way. And you just showed the Nation why. So I want to welcome you all for coming. Thanks for being here, Mike, and it's good to see the first lady, too. Welcome to the White House, and welcome you all.

This "Spirit of Louisiana" truck really does show the deep concern of the good folks of Louisiana. Everybody in our Nation realized on September 11th, we were all affected. They might have hit right around the corner here, and they might have hit in New York City, but it affected all of us. And the good people of Louisiana realize that. I particularly love this story, about how Ronnie decides to do something on behalf of the fellow citizens. So he gets on the phone and calls a local radio personality—the Governor. [Laughter] And out of that came a huge volunteer effort in the State of Louisiana to provide help and aid to the good people of New York City.

And I think the Americans need to understand that this is the kind of story that makes our country so unique and so different. It's a story that makes me so proud to be the President of such a great—such great land.

I want to thank Senator for coming; thank you, Mary, for being here. I want to thank the two Congressmen for being here; John and David, thank you all for coming. Welcome. I want to thank all the volunteers who worked on this project. I want to thank the firefighters and police officers from the State of Louisiana who've come. You obviously represent a noble profession and a profession that really knows no borders. And you're on your way to express your solidarity with people who fight fires. They may talk with a different accent, but they share the same dangers. And I appreciate you all coming, and I know people in New York City are really anxious to have you up there.

One of the things I like to remind the enemy is, "You thought you were going to change America when you hit us; you thought, by your actions and by your attacks, that somehow this Nation was so soft that we didn't know how to respond." And they're paying a terrible price for their miscalculation. We're making great progress in the first theater of this long war to rout terror where it may exist.

I'm really proud of our military. I'm proud of the job they're doing. I'm proud of the fact that we've set a clear goal with certain objectives, and those objectives are being met.

I know the Governor likes to hunt rabbits down in Louisiana. Sometimes those rabbits think they can hide from the Governor, but eventually, he smokes them out and gets them. And that's exactly what is happening to Mr. bin Laden and all the murderers that he's trying to hide in Afghanistan.

But the other thing that the terrorist doesn't understand was how strong our— the strength of America. They didn't understand that. And the strength of America is our citizens: citizens who love each other; citizens who are decent; citizens who, when called upon, can respond to any adversity.

And that's exactly what's happening here on the White House lawn today. People from all walks of life, all political parties, some of who probably have never been to New York City before, have said, "What can I do to help? How can I help somebody whose lives have been adversely affected by the evil ones?" And behind me sits the answer, one beautiful, well-manufactured truck, made by an entrepreneur in Louisiana who asked his people to work overtime, and they did, to deliver it here today. I know I speak on behalf of all Americans: Thank you for what you're doing.

No, they roused a mighty nation. They roused a mighty nation, and we will not be stopped. We're not going to be stopped overseas, and we're sure not going to be stopped here at home.

I hope every family here and all the folks who volunteered to make this happen have a wonderful holiday season. May God bless your families, and may God continue to bless America. Thank you for coming.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:50 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. M.J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., of Louisiana, and his wife, Alice; Ronald Goldman, who initiated the idea of the "Spirit of Louisiana"; Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist organization; and Chris Ferrara, president and chief executive officer, Ferrara Fire Apparatus, Inc.

George W. Bush, Remarks on Viewing the "Spirit of Louisiana" Firetruck for New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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