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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America's New War: Bush Speaks at Reception Honoring USO

Aired November 2, 2001 - 14:22   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: To the East Room of the White House. The president is being introduced by the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff for this USO event.

We're not sure precisely what the president will talk about, beyond the standard update on the war, both home and abroad. We certainly expect that. We know there will be a number of other moments in this afternoon at the White House before the president leaves. A video on the USO will be shown, a couple of songs will be sung, Wayne Newton will make remarks. And we will stay with it as long as it seems to be the right thing to do.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEN. RICHARD MEYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: And Mr. President, in early 1942, several months after America entered another global war, your grandfather, Prescott Bush, took charge of the USO and devoted countless hours raising funds for the then fledgling organization. And your father, President George Bush, enthusiastically supported and often participated in USO-sponsored events during his years in the White House.

So on behalf of all our men and women in uniform, I'd like to salute you today, sir, for carrying on this family tradition of support to the USO.

Let me also note that our nation is, obviously, truly blessed to have you guiding us to victory in this new global war against the forces of terror.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's my great honor and privilege to introduce a truly outstanding leader, our commander in chief, the president of the United States, George W. Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all. Please sit down.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

Good afternoon, and Laura and I want to welcome you all to the White House. Welcome.

(LAUGHTER)

Thanks for coming.

I also want to thank all who work with the USO. It is important. It's important for our country and it's important for the world, and I want to thank you for coming so we can honor such a fine, fine organization.

I also want to thank Wayne Newton for being here. I appreciate so very much your leading the USO Celebrity Circle. I don't know whether or not you spent much time with Bob Hope before you took the assignment, but this job has got a 60-year term limit to it.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank Dick Myers and the other members of the Joint Chiefs who are here. I am proud of the job you all are doing.

I want to thank the secretary of Navy, Gordon English, for coming as well.

I appreciate so very much members of the United States Congress here. Senator Reid (ph), thank you so very much. I don't know if Congressman Edwards is here. My congressman -- he's the congressman for Crawford, Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

Good to see you, sir. Answer my mail, will you?

(LAUGHTER)

I appreciate Norm Mineta who is here. Part of our battle against terrorism is to have a strong homefront, and to make sure our airlines are secure. And we've got a really good man running the Department of Transportation to make sure that happens.

Norm, I'm proud of the work you're doing. I'm proud of your leadership.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm glad Joyce Rumsfeld is here.

Thanks for coming, Joyce.

Don is on his way overseas and he, like the rest of the Pentagon, is doing a fabulous job. I mean a really good job of defending our country. I look forward to getting him back and looking forward to hearing how the trip went.

John Gottschalk, thank you very much for taking on this assignment.

And General Tululi (ph), thank you as well. I appreciate so very much your being here.

I want to thank Neil McCoy. I want to thank Rob Snyder (ph) and Jessica Simpson as well. These are some of the great talent who are going to entertain our troops and bring smiles to the faces of people who are a long way away from home. It's a noble cause and I appreciate you all doing this.

Next week when the tour begins, people are going to travel all around the globe. And there they will find young men and women of the highest caliber, of the highest caliber, some of whom will be facing extreme danger in the months to come; all of whom are proud to serve.

In a war against terrorism, we can be thankful -- all of us in America, and for that matter all the people who have joined our vast coalition can be thankful that we are defended by men and women of such incredible character and such great courage.

Our USO performers are all part of a very special American institution. For more than six decades the USO has brought a touch of home to Americans in distant places. Millions of veterans still cherish memories of USO shows, hospitality centers, and the good folks who traveled thousands of miles to show their support.

The USO brought more than entertainment to the troops. Here's what Harry Truman had to say. He said, "The USO lets our service men and women know the people of the United States are behind them." Well, that's still true at the beginning of the century, and for a very different kind of war, a war that is being fought on many fronts: a war that's being fought here on the homeland; a war that's being fought because of the relentless efforts of our law enforcement; a war that's being fought by a diplomatic front, the likes of which the world has never seen before; a war that's being fought by cutting off funds to the evil ones; and a war that's being fought on the field of battle.

We face an enemy, an enemy the likes of which we've never seen before, an enemy without a government, an enemy that's tried to hijack a great religion, an enemy that is so evil that those of us in American can't possibly comprehend why they do what they do. But it will be an enemy that will be defeated...

(APPLAUSE)

This enemy will be defeated, because this nation is strong and this nation is united. This enemy will be defeated, because this nation won't stand for evil. This enemy will be defeated, because we understand we fight for our very freedoms. This enemy will be defeated, because we understand that what we do today will determine whether our children and our grandchildren can grow up in a free society in a free world. This enemy will be defeated, because across the world our soldiers, Marines and sailors, airmen and Coast Guardsmen are the defenders of freedom, and once again, they will know that the American people stand squarely behind them. (APPLAUSE)

This is a war that has required our military to adjust. It is a different kind of war, and we've got a strategy that meets this different kind of war. And after all these days we got a B-2 bomber pilot who boards his aircraft in Missouri, delivers his ordnance and comes back to Missouri.

And the men and women of today's armed services also are different from the past. Most are likely to be married. Most are likely to have young children.

And the good news is the USO has kept pace with these changes. It too has changed to reflect the nature of modern war and a modern military. And it too is directing its mission, not just for those in the military, but for their family members as well.

The USO leadership is as diverse and talented as ever. And I want to thank you all very much, and so do the American people.

Some of the members of the Celebrity Circles Executive Committee, including Tom Hanks and Quincy Jones, could not be here, but tell them I thanked them, and tell them we appreciate their hard work.

And for our troops abroad, the USO's touch of home will mean even more, even more as we head toward Thanksgiving, and eventually the holiday seasons of the winter. And you can tell them they are greatly needed where they are, and they're greatly missed back home. And you can tell them the American people and the president are proud of their service.

May God bless the USO, and may God bless America.

(APPLAUSE)

BROWN: President Bush, in the East Room of the White House, at a USO event, thanking people for their support of the USO and thanking the Pentagon, the soldiers in Afghanistan, for their efforts.

The rest of this event is pure ceremony, almost literally a little song and dance.

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