Bush seeks to reassure schoolchildren, CEOs
NEW YORK (CNN) -- President Bush lauded New York teachers as heroes and praised firefighters for their courage during his second visit to Manhattan since the World Trade Center attacks.
After a morning meeting with U.S. business leaders, Bush stopped by a first-grade class at Hernando Desoto School, where he led students in the Pledge of Allegiance.
"There's a lot of talk about heroes in our society," he told students. "A hero is somebody you look up to, of course, and the teachers of New York City were very heroic."
That heroism wasn't limited to leading students to safety after the attack, said Bush.
"They're heroic today. You know why? Because they love you, and if you've got any worries about what took place at the World Trade Center, they want to help you."
The president, who first learned of the September 11 attacks during a meeting with Florida schoolchildren, took time to pose for photographs and mingle with students and teachers.
When a teacher asked him to add his contribution to a poster labeled "Why we love America," Bush wrote, "I love America because I love freedom."
Later, the president lunched with firefighters from Fire Engine Company 55, along with Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki.
"Americans who have never been in New York City are incredibly proud of the firefighters of this city, and so am I," he told them, adding "I want to thank you all for your courage."
Bush began his New York visit at a meeting with 30 CEOs of major U.S. businesses.
"I am saddened by the sight of the World Trade Center once again," he said. "But through my tears, I do see a much better future for the country."
Touting a new $60 billion to $75 billion stimulus package, he expressed optimism that the economy will weather the events of September 11.
"But just like those terrorists, they can't affect our soul, they can't affect the greatness of America," he said. "We all believe that the underpinnings are there for economic recovery."
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