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 Home > News & Policies > January 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 30, 2002

President Launches USA Freedom Corps
Remarks by the President on Citizen Preparedness
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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3:15 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you all very much for such a warm, North Carolina welcome.  (Applause.)  I hope I didn't keep you up too late last night.  (Laughter.)  I usually get to bed about 9:00 p.m. -- but I obviously had something to say.  (Applause.)  I said that even though we're President George W. Bush talks with local police, fire, health and government officials during a roundtable meeting at the Center for Community Safety at Winston-Salem State University, Wednesday, Jan 30, 2002. White House photo by Eric Draper.

at war, even though we're at recession, the state of our union has never been stronger.  (Applause.)

And I know why.  And the reason why is because we're a nation of strong Americans.  It is such an honor to be the President of such a fabulous country.  And I'm proud to be here with you to share some of my thoughts and hopes and concerns.

Before I begin, I want to thank your Chief, she has done a fabulous job.  I loved it when the men and women who wear the blue stood up when the Chief came out and led the round of applause.  It shows that she knows how to lead.  So, Chief, thank you for being here and thank you for honoring me with your presence.  (Applause.)

I'm proud that Tom Ridge is traveling with me today.  He and I were governors together.  (Applause.)  Never did I dream that I'd ask him to come and serve in an important capacity -- and that is to protect our homeland -- because we never thought we'd be attacked.  But we have been.  And now it's time for this country to respond in a positive way, and I am so proud of the effort he is leading to secure the homeland of the United States of America.

I'm also glad Allbaugh is here.  Obviously, I didn't pick him because he's pretty.  (Laughter.)  He's got a face only his mother would love -- (laughter) -- if she stretches it.  (Laughter.)  But I've known him for a long time.  He was with me in Texas.  He understands how to manage an organization.  And the organization he manages is FEMA, so that if there ever is an emergency in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, you'll get the absolute best service from your federal government. President George W. Bush greets local law enforcement officers after remarks on Citizen Preparedness at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C. Wednesday, Jan 30, 2002. White House Photo by Eric Draper.

I want to thank both members for being here, both men for being here today.  (Applause.)

I flew down on the airplane today with some distinguished members of the North Carolina congressional delegation.  First, a true gentlemen -- and somebody, every time I sees him, talks about North Carolina in the most glowing terms, and that's Senator Jesse Helms.  (Applause.)

And then we let somebody from Hickory, North Carolina travel with us.  (Applause.)  Old Cass Ballenger.  I appreciate you being here, Cass.  (Applause.)  Congressman Mel Watt is with us today, too.  Thank you, Congressman, for coming; honored you're here.  (Applause.)

My first meeting was in his district, and then I crossed the line and came into Richard Burr's district, Congressman Richard Burr.  (Applause.) Richard told me that his mother and daddy are here.  Where?  There you go.

(Applause.)  I hope he listens to you, mom.  You better tell him.  He probably listens to you about as much as I listen to my mother.  (Laughter.)  A lot, by the way.  (Laughter.)

I'm also so proud, the other night I invited one of our nation's foremost couples for dinner.  Unfortunately, only the husband could come.  We got stuck with the short straw in this couple, because the wife was here doing hard work in North Carolina -- the lady who wasn't at dinner was Miss Elizabeth Dole.  Thank you for coming.  (Applause.)  My hope, of course, is that we'll be able to dine frequently.  (Laughter and applause.)

I'm told your good governor is here -- the Governor of the State of North Carolina, Mike Easley.  (Applause.)  I know your mayor is here, because I traveled with him in the limousine.  We had a good visit, newly-elected Mayor Joines of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  Thank you, Mr. Mayor.  (Applause.)

We've got leaders from the state delegation.  I know the leader of the Senate is here on the Republican side; members of the House and the Senate.  I'm so honored you all would take time to come and pay a visit.  I

know that we've got people who have made huge sacrifices in their life with us today, men and women who wear our uniform.  We are so grateful for your service to our community.  (Applause.)

I'm told there are some volunteer firefighters here.  (Applause.)  I'm

a proud contributor to the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department.  One of the things I'll be talking about a little later on is how we can encourage volunteers to help police and firefighters all across the country.  

The volunteer fire departments have already shown how to help.  It is made up of people who understand that in order to make their community, people must stand up and say, how can I help.  So I want to thank all the volunteer firefighters who are here today.  (Applause.)

We're making great progress in our war against terror.  We have totally routed out one of the most repressive governments in the history of mankind, the Taliban.  (Applause.)  

When I made our announcement last September about our intentions, I said the evil won't stand.  And to nations that feel like they can harbor evil, or support terrorists, they, too, are just as guilty as a terrorist.  We not only made the message clear, we delivered.  (Applause.)

And that's because this patient nation has got a fine, strong United States military.  And this country is going to back them to the hilt in our war against terror.  (Applause.)

We're making good progress.  We put together a great coalition of nations around the world, with this message:  Either you're with us or you're against us.  Either you're on the side of freedom and justice, or you aren't.  

And the good news is most people are beginning to see the wisdom of being on the side of freedom and justice.  (Laughter and applause.)

We're after them.  But the good news to report for our side, and the bad news for the evil, is that we're patient, and we're determined, and we will not stop until we achieve all our objectives.

The first objective was to hold the Taliban government hostage and to liberate a people.  And this proud nation did so.  One of my favorite images was to see liberated women and children with joy on their faces, thanks to the United States military.  (Applause.)

We haven't forgot our other objective, and that's bad news for al Qaeda.  Our other objective is to run them down, wherever they hide, and bring them to justice.  Or, as I like to say, get 'em.  (Laughter and applause.)  It's going to take a while.  There are caves in rugged parts of Afghanistan where these people may be hiding.  But they better not think they can hide forever --

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Give 'em what-for, G!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  -- because our only objective is not al Qaeda; our objective is broader than one person, or a handful of people.  We'll get 'em.  We're going to get 'em.  

We're going to bring them to justice, make no mistake about it, my fellow Americans.  (Applause.)  But the call is bigger than that.  In order to make sure our children can grow up in a free world, and a civilized world, we must rout out terror wherever it exists, wherever it hides.

The doctrine that says you're just as guilty as the terrorist applies not only in Afghanistan, but worldwide.  Our mission is to make the world free from terror.  And this mighty country will not tarry, and we will not fail in our love and our quest for freedom.  (Applause.)

I told the people last night that one of the things we discovered in Afghanistan in the caves was that they've got designs on our homeland still, of course.  We also believe they've trained thousands and thousands of killers that are around the world.  That's why we're not going to rest.

That's why we're going to remind the nations around the world that we can't rest.  We have no choice, and we're not going to.

I also made it clear that if you're a nation that's going to develop weapons of mass destruction, you, too -- you, too -- are on our radar screen; you, too, if you've got a history of repression and violence and disregard for human rights and are developing a weapon of mass destruction -- you, too, are now on notice that the United States of America will do whatever it takes to defend our security.  (Applause.)

And, therefore, the budget I sent to Congress makes a priority for national defense.  Our soldiers deserve the best equipment, the best training, and a pay raise as we fight this war against terror.  (Applause.)

I also want Americans to know that we will do everything we can to secure the homeland.  And, therefore, I submitted a budget that increases homeland security, increases the monies for homeland security.  

Tom Ridge is developing a coordinated strategy that will provide research for vaccines to fight bioterrorism, that will send more equipment and training money to first-responders -- those are the police and firefighters all across America.  

We'll keep a closer eye on our border.  We want to make sure we understand who's coming in and who's going out.

We want to do everything we can to secure America, to secure our nation.  (Applause.)

Part of the initiative I called on will call upon people to help us with the homeland security, and I will explain that a little later.  But you've got to know that every day your federal government and law enforcement officials are doing everything we can to find them, to make sure they don't hit us, to protect the American people.  

My most important job is the security of America; is the security of Americans.  I will not rest until we finally win this war on terror, because I understand the best

way to secure America is to find terrorists where they live and bring them to justice.  And that's exactly what this country is going to do.  (Applause.)

I also spent some time last night talking about economic security. We're talking about homeland security, and part of having a secure homeland is to make sure people can work, that there are jobs available for people who want to work.

And so, on the one hand, I think Congress ought to help those who are unemployed.  But I understand people don't want an unemployment check, they want a steady paycheck.  (Applause.)  And so the thing Congress has got to do is create jobs, jobs for Americans, jobs for people who want to work.  (Applause.)

You probably remember the debate on taxes.  Thank goodness we cut taxes when we did.  (Applause.)  The best way -- the best way to help an economy recover is to let hard-working people keep more of their money.  

When they get more money in their pocket, they spend more money; and as they spend more money, it helps create jobs.  Tax relief is an important way to battle recession.  And for those who want to do away with tax relief -- you don't know what you're talking about.  You don't raise taxes.  (Applause.)  We don't raise taxes in the middle of a recession.

We've got to trust people with their own money.  I'm not sure what textbook some of them are reading up there.  (Laughter.)  But, obviously, it's not the same one we've been reading here in this room.

I will tell you another way to create jobs, is to open up markets. Listen, our farmers in America are the best in the world.  We've got the best agriculture sector.  (Applause.)  

If we're the best at something, it seems like we ought to sell it.  The more we can sell, the more jobs there are.  The more markets that open for U.S. producers, the more jobs there will be for U.S. workers.

I'll tell you another way to create jobs, is to have an energy policy; is to finally get an energy policy that does several things.  First of all, if you're trying to create jobs and you're not sure what the price of energy is going to be, it makes job creation less certain.  

If there's a price spike, it's harder to hire somebody.  If there's uncertainty in supply, it's harder to plan for the future.  And, therefore, having an energy policy makes sense.  It makes sense from an economic perspective.

We've got to conserve more; we've got to utilize technology more.  But for the sake of national security, we must find more oil and gas at home to become less reliant on foreign sources of oil.  (Applause.)

I'm proud of the work we did on an education bill.  I know a lot of you here are concerned about your public schools, and so am I.  

I want the best, and so do you.  I want to make sure every child learns, and no child gets left behind.  We worked well together.  I said last night in the middle of the speech that I was proud to work with Republicans, proud to work with Democrats.  I was even proud of the efforts -- very proud of the efforts of Ted Kennedy.

Now, I understand in North Carolina -- (laughter) -- and in parts of Texas -- (laughter) -- they may not understand a good conservative Republican like me saying nice things about liberal Ted Kennedy. (Laughter.)  

But I'm going to tell you something -- he cares about public schools like I do.  He, too, doesn't want any child left behind.  We set aside our parties and focused on America and did what was right for the school children of America.  (Applause.)

A good job means good education.  A good education means good jobs.  In order to have good jobs, you've got to have a good education system.  

And so, therefore, we passed a good piece of legislation -- provides more money for at-risk kids, but also trusts the good people of North Carolina to make the decisions for the children of North Carolina.  

The people who care more about the children who live in Winston-Salem are the moms and dads and community leaders of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  (Applause.)

And we've obviously got more to do, and we're going to get a lot done if we focus on America.  If we focus on results.  If we don't play the politics of the old days, where you try to tear the other guy down in order

to get ahead.  We've got to get rid of that attitude in Washington.  And when we do, the country will be better off for it.  (Applause.)

And that's what the country expects.  This country expects the best --

the best.  This country is taking an assessment right now of what's important.  The evil ones thought that we were weak.  They didn't understand us.  As I say, they were probably watching too much daytime TV.

(Laughter.)  This is a strong nation.  This is a compassionate nation.  This is a decent nation.  And this is a nation that will not let terrorists change our way of life.

As a matter of fact, what the terrorists have done has caused us to take an assessment of what's important.  And one of the things of my job is to capture this new spirit.  I had been concerned for too long about a culture that says, if it feels good, just go ahead and do it.

I believe that this nation is strong enough and focused enough and dedicated enough to usher in a culture that says, each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life.  (Applause.)

Part of our responsibility understands that if you happen to be a mom or a dad, that your most important job will be to love your children with all your heart and all your soul.  (Applause.)  

Part of our responsibility is corporate responsibility.  And corporate America must be open about its books and accounting systems -- (applause) -- so that shareholders and employees know the full truth about what's going on, on balance sheets.  (Applause.)

Part of being a responsible society -- part of being a responsible society is for people to love your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.  (Applause.)  And part of being a responsible society is to serve your community.  And so my call to America is -- I hope and ask that

you serve your community you live in and your nation by two years of service, 4,000 hours of service over your lifetime.

Now, many of you do that, I know.  And many of you go to your Sunday school class and figure out ways to help a neighbor in need.  Some of you walk across the street to a shut-in and say, I love you, can I care for you.  

Many of you mentor.  I hope you keep doing that, that's part of the 4,000 hours I asked for you to do for your nation, for the good of your community.

Some don't know where to start, and I've got, obviously, a good idea, and that is for the USA Freedom Corps.  It's a chance to serve your nation in three different ways.  One is to be a part of making sure your community

is prepared for any emergency that might happen.  I went over with the Chief today earlier and sw a community collaboration that is very strong and powerful that you have here in Winston in Salem.  You need to be proud of it.

Proud of the fact that your police chief and your fire chief and your mayor, your emergency responders, the National Guard have developed a -- hospitals and docs and nurses -- have developed an emergency response plan; a plan that will help the citizens deal with an emergency, should it occur here in Winston-Salem.  It's an integral part of preparing your community.

By the way, by preparing your community for an emergency, you also leave a legacy behind that will make your community better.  The more the police and fire work together, the more likely it is your communities will be safe.

But one of the things we're asking is for people to volunteer. Ex-policemen or ex-firefighters, retired docs or nurses -- make yourself available to be a part of your emergency response teams in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, or any other community in North Carolina or the country, for that matter.

A second way that we can serve our community is through AmeriCorps.  I want to expand the size of AmeriCorps by 200,000 volunteers, many of whom will end up teaching in inner-city schools.  I'm going to Atlanta, Georgia, tomorrow to herald a great program called "Teach For America."  

It is a place where youngsters -- or oldsters, for that matter -- who are interested in serving their community can teach.  I can't think of a more noble profession and a better way to serve your community than teaching.  (Applause.)

We're going to expand Senior Corps, as well, to give our seniors a chance to continue to lend their expertise and judgment and wisdom in the communities in which they live.

And, finally, I believe that one thing we must do -- and I spent some time talking about it last night -- was to expand the Peace Corps, revitalize the mission, encourage the Peace Corps to go into the Islamic world to spread the message of economic development and really share the compassion of a great nation, and that is America.  These are ways you can help.  These are ways that you can be a part of serving your nation.

Along these lines, I've asked a friend of mine who has served my administration well, to be a director, the executive director of this USA Freedom Corps.  He is an integral part of our team.  

And by taking him off the Domestic Policy Council and putting him in charge of USA Freedom, I am obviously making a strong commitment to the future of this organization.  He'll be held accountable.  

When we say we're going to get more people involved, I'll be asking him on a regular basis, how're we doing.  If we're not doing that well, how come.  What can we do to make it better.

But I'd like you to welcome the new Executive Director, John Bridgeland.  (Applause.)

Now, in order to make sure people who want to sign up -- if you listened to the speech last night, you know, people were saying, well, gosh, that's nice, he called me to action; where do I look?  

Well, here's where.  At usafreedomcorps.gov.  If you want to find out how you can join the USA Freedom Corps or, for that matter, figure out how to help to serve your community outside of the USA Freedom Corps -- because, as I understand, we've got it tied into websites, for example, the community services in Winston-Salem -- dial up usafreedomcorps.gov.

Or you can call this number -- it sounds like I'm making a pitch, and I am.  (Laughter.)  This is the right thing to do for America.  1-877-USACorps.  If somebody out there is interested in figuring out how to serve, it's 1-877-USACorps.

Now, people ask me all the time, what can I do to help.  How can I be a part -- oh, by the way, I look forward to working with my old rival on this initiative.  

One of the things that John McCain spent a lot of time talking about when we ran against each other, and still spends a lot of time talking about, is service.  

He's a man who understood service to his country.  He's a man who knows that America will be better off as we serve our country.  And I look forward to working with Senator McCain and Senator Bayh of Indiana to get this legislation through the Congress.

People, though, come up to me all the time and say, well, gosh, that's good, we're winning.  I say, we are, and we've got a lot more to do and it's going to take a while.  They say, what can I do to help.  You know, you've heard me talk about this, probably, but I really, truly view this is a conflict between good and evil.  And there really isn't much middle ground -- like none.  (Laughter.)  The people we fight are evil people.  They have no regard for human life.  They believe in tyranny.  

Their history has shown exactly what I'm talking about.  Imagine a society where women are brutalized, children aren't educated, young girls have no chance of getting an education.  It is a backward, barbaric point of view.  And those are the kind of people -- but the people we're after embraced that point of view.

And, obviously, if you want to fight evil, we've figured out a way to do so militarily.  That's one way.  But at home, you fight evil with acts of goodness.  You overcome the evil in society by doing something to help somebody.  It's the collection -- what I called last night, the momentum of

a million acts of kindness.  That's the collective soul of the country.  Millions of acts of kindness and decency that take place not because of the government, but because this is a nation of heart, a nation that cares, a nation of fine, fine people.

If people want to fight terror, do something kind for a neighbor. Join the USA Freedom Corps.  Love somebody.  Mentor a child.  Stand up to evil with acts of goodness and kindness.  

Not only will our country be better, but we'll show the world -- we will show the world that values, universal values must be respected, and must be adhered to.  And as a result, the world will be more peaceful.      History has called us to action, and action we will take.  (Applause.)

It is such an honor -- I want to repeat where I started -- it is such an honor to be the President of such a great land, to be given the opportunity to lead a land full of such great people.  Fight on, America.  I love you.  God bless.  (Applause.)

END  3:48 P.M. EST