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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 18, 2001
11:46 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. Welcome. Last week, America suffered greatly. Thousands of our citizens lost lives. Thousands were hurt. But thousands of our citizens rose to the occasion to help.
Last week was a really horrible week for America. But out of our tears and sadness, we saw the best of America as well. We saw a great country rise up to help.
Tens of millions of dollars and thousands of hours and tons of food and clothing have all been donated to help rebuild shattered lives. Americans' love for America was channeled through our nation's great charities. And as President of this great land, nothing made me more proud.
In the week since the attack, our compassion and generous citizens have led the first phase in the war on terrorism. They have sustained and strengthened the home front. Today, I'm joined by representatives of charities which have brought relief to citizens in New York City and Virginia, Pennsylvania. We've got representatives of firefighters, police officers, entrepreneurs who have helped out all across America.
We've got many good citizens here who represent the large national charities like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the United Way. We've got folks here in the nation's Rose Garden who represent the community-based programs and faith-based programs, firefighter and police associations, local businesses, nonprofits. Large and small, these important charitable efforts are saving lives and, as importantly, are restoring hope.
I'm also joined by Libby Pataki, the better half of the Governor of New York. (Applause.) Tony Carbonetti, the Chief of Staff to Rudy Giuliani -- (applause) -- and my friends and former fellow Governors -- actually, they're Governors, I was a former governor -- Jim Gilmore and Tom Ridge. (Applause.) These Governors and their wives and the Mayor of New York have shown impressive leadership -- impressive leadership -- in the face of the challenges that faced their cities and their states.
They put public agencies on full alert to provide immediate assistance to victims and their families; and for all those who helped, out nation is most grateful. They've called on the men and women of the National Guard to help maintain calm and order. And we thank those who wear the uniform as well. And they've led and supported valiant rescue workers in New York City and northern Virginia, whose bravery is seared into our national consciousness.
I was honored to be able to stand amidst the rescue workers and looked in their eyes and saw the determination that would make all Americans proud. In spite of their exhaustion, in spite of the fact that they had worked themselves into a state of total fatigue, they still wanted to keep fighting on for their fellow brothers and sisters trapped in the rubble.
Mayor Giuliani, and Pataki, have led New York City through its most difficult of all days, and they have done so with class and bravery and distinction. And we owe them a debt of gratitude. (Applause.) The Mayor, the Governors, all New Yorkers, have demonstrated the very best American values to a world that has been watching to see how our nation would react.
The world watches the great country called America, and they say: What will they do? What will Americans do? And what they've seen is the best of America. They've seen leadership, they've seen courage, and as importantly, they've seen compassion.
Last evening marked the start of Rosh Hashana. In Jewish teaching, this holy day is the anniversary of the creation of the world. It is a season of renewal and of hope, and people of every faith, all across America, embraced that spirit of renewal and hope.
Funds in New York and Washington are providing food, clothing and financial help to husbands and wives and sons and daughters who suffer mightily. Citizens near Ground Zero in New York have provided sandwiches, drinks and clean clothes to the tired and hungry rescue workers.
And in one of America's greatest traditions, a handful of entrepreneurs from Springfield, Virginia collected $600 by selling lemonade, and gave it to the Red Cross.
These acts of generosity and kindness are spreading all across America. There are challenges that remain for those who suffer today; make no mistake about it. We've got a lot of work to do as a nation. And these good efforts, these good, charitable, compassionate efforts need the full support of Americans everywhere.
People all across the country are asking how they can help. What can they do to provide hope. What can they do to help heal the wounds by helping their fellow Americans. Well, there are many ways to contribute. Local stores and businesses on Main Street America are collecting money to send to appropriate relief and help agencies. National media organizations are helping collect. Internet portals providing an interesting opportunity for people to contribute and provide their help.
Many of the charities, themselves, welcome donations through web sites. So I urge my fellow Americans to continue contributing through web sites. If you're interested in helping, call up one of the great charities of America and contribute.
Thus far, I'm proud to report through the web sites of our charities, Americans have donated $55 million in seven short days. Some of America's high-tech leaders, AOL/Time Warner and Microsoft, Amazon, Ebay, Cisco Systems and Yahoo have joined together in a private effort to encourage on-line giving so that we can funnel resources to help our citizens in need.
They have formed what's called "The American Liberty Partnership." It has a web site called libertyunites.org. And this will help Americans find out how to help. If a concerned American wants to help a neighbor in need, even though the neighborhood might not be right next to each other, they can get on libertyunites.org, and find out how to help. And I urge my fellow Americans to do so.
Americans can not only make on-line donations, they can figure out where to send food, where to donate blood, where to give clothes. They can find out how best to donate their time.
Now, it's important to realize that at this moment, many of our charities are overwhelmed by the public response. That's the kind of problem we like in America. But because the portals may be jammed, because the phones may be busy, is not an excuse for Americans not to continue to fight to help their neighbors.
And so, I ask my fellow Americans to be patient with those charities that want their help, to keep trying to give, to not lose sight of the mission. And that is, we'll fight terrorism on all fronts. We will not be terrorized so that their hearts are hardened.
Nobody can threaten this country. Oh, they may be able to bomb buildings and obviously disrupt lives. But we're too great a nation to allow the evil-doers to affect our soul and our spirit.
Today, I herald the soul and spirit of America with live examples of people who have made a huge difference, and those who suffer and those who hurt. This is a great land. It's a great land, because our people are so decent and strong and compassionate.
God bless. (Applause.)
END 11:58 A.M. EDT