Bush: World stirred to action on September 11
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Leading a White House memorial ceremony for the victims of September 11, President Bush on Monday called for a continued and united effort against terrorism six months after the attacks on New York and Washington.
"We have come together to mark a terrible day and to reaffirm a just and viable cause," Bush said at a ceremony on the south lawn attended by more than 1,000 people, including world leaders, members of Congress, top administration officials and relatives of the terror victims.
"September 11 was not the beginning of global terror, but it was the beginning of the world's concerted response," he said. "History will know that day not only as a day of tragedy but as a day of decision, when the civilized world was stirred to anger and to action."
"The terror that targeted New York and Washington could next strike any center of civilization," Bush said, standing on a stage filled with flags from allied countries in the war on terror. "Against such an enemy, there is no immunity, and there can be no neutrality."
Speaking before Bush, ambassadors Jibril Aminu of Nigeria and Yang Sung Chul of South Korea pledged support in the war effort.
Yang said South Korea will help just as the United States aided his country in the fight against communism.
"As we then fought side by side and shoulder to shoulder, now the Korean people actively support the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism and will do so until it is eradicated," Yang said.
Bush promised to remain committed to the effort.
"Every nation should know that for America the war on terror is not just a policy, it's a pledge," he said. "I will not relent in this struggle for the freedom and security of my country and the civilized world."
The elaborate White House ceremony was meant, in part, to mend fences with coalition partners, Bush aides said.
The aides concede the president's State of the Union address -- with its "axis of evil" reference to Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- irked several members of the coalition who thought Bush had opened a new front in the war on terror without consulting them.
"This is an opportunity for the president to publicly thank the partners from around the world who are working with us on the war on terror," presidential counselor Karen Hughes said before the ceremony.
"More than 170 flags will fly on the south lawn of the White House today as a way to visually and symbolically explain that the world is coming together to fight this threat to civilization and to freedom."
Hughes also said it could take two decades to reverse the deep suspicion and hostility toward the United States revealed in a recent Gallup poll of several Muslim nations. The survey -- conducted in December and January -- found that 53 percent of respondents interviewed in nine Muslim countries had unfavorable opinions of the United States.
Hughes said the Coalition Information Center was set up at the White House with satellite offices in London, England, and Islamabad, Pakistan, to improve the image of the United States in Muslim nations in hopes of reversing the entrenched anti-American sentiments.
"It will take probably 10 or 15 or even 20 years for the kind of campaign we are talking about to have an effect," Hughes said. "We have not done a very good job in America over the past 20 or 30 years of explaining our values to the rest of the world and talking about the values we have in common. And we're obviously behind.
"The Gallup Poll confirmed what we thought, which is the whole reason we set up the Coalition Information Center. We've got a big job ahead in communicating our values to the world."
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