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Bush: 'We wage a war to save civilization itself'

Bush: "During the last two months, we have shown the world -- America is a great nation."  

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- President Bush said Thursday the United States, after two of the "most difficult and most inspiring" months in its history, remains strong in the face of terrorism as it wages "a war to save civilization itself."

"This great nation will never be intimidated. None of us would ever wish the evil that has been done to our country, yet we have learned that out of evil can come great good," he said in the 35-minute prime-time address.

"During the last two months, we have shown the world -- America is a great nation. America has responded magnificently: with courage and caring."

Bush was greeted with chants of "USA! USA!" when he walked to the podium at the Georgia World Congress Center filled with police, firefighters, health officials and other Atlanta residents. The backdrop read: "United we stand."

The president said there is no doubt the United States is a "different country than we were on September 10."

And while the September 11 terrorist attacks shocked and horrified the nation -- and many felt "our lives would never be the same" -- the country has come together in an unprecedented manner.

"What we couldn't be sure of then -- and what the terrorists never expected -- was that America would emerge stronger, with a renewed spirit of pride," he said.

Watch Bush's speech in Atlanta, Georgia (November 8)

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The president said the U.S. military is carrying out its mission of rooting out the Taliban and al Qaeda, the terror network run by Saudi exile Osama bin Laden.

"I am so proud of our military .... We are deliberately and systematically hunting down those murderers and we will bring them to justice," he said.

"When the terrorists and their supporters are gone, the people of Afghanistan will say with the rest of the world: Good riddance."

Bush said the United States is dealing with an enemy so evil that they want "to kill all Americans, kill all Jews, and kill all Christians.

"We have seen that type of hate before -- and the only possible response is to confront it -- and defeat it," Bush said.

"This enemy tries to hide behind a peaceful faith, but those who celebrate the murder of innocent men, women and children have no religion, have no conscience, and have no mercy," he said.

"We wage a war to save civilization itself. We did not seek it, but we will fight it and we will prevail."

With the threat of more terrorist acts against the United States, he said the nation's leaders would issue terror alerts "when we have evidence of credible threats."

He said Americans should not let such alerts "stop your life."

"It is a call to be vigilant -- to know that your government is on high alert, and to add your eyes and ears to our efforts to find and stop those who want to do us harm," the president said.

In the speech punctuated by at least 11 standing ovations, Bush saluted the police and firefighters killed in the World Trade Center attack and the postal employees who have died of inhalation anthrax.

He called on Congress to pass an airline security bill and urged Americans to volunteer in their communities.

Bush cited the courage of a young man who led other passengers in fighting terrorists for control of Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania. Before his phone was cut off, the man was heard reciting the Lord's Prayer and saying, "Let's roll."

"We have our marching orders. My fellow Americans, Let's roll," Bush said, ending his speech to roaring applause.

Earlier in the day, the president toured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and thanked what he called the "vast army to fight off the terrorist attacks in America."

Bush said that in the wake of the recent cases of anthrax CDC employees "saved a lot of lives in America" by working "endless hours to provide good public health information, remedy and quick response to people who have been affected by this evil attack."

He described public health officials as "real heroes of America," a phrase he repeated in his evening speech.


• The White House
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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