For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
January 25, 2003
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Center for Strategic and International Studies Luncheon
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Thank you, Dr. Abshire for your warm welcome. And thank you, Senator Nunn, Dr. Hamre, Dr. Kissinger and Secretary Schultz. Thank you CSIS members for your valuable research which is vital to our national security. Securing our homeland continues to be a top priority of the President as he begins his third year in office.
This past week marked the second anniversary of the President's inauguration. Two years ago in his Inaugural address, the President spoke of our democracy and of our "moral obligation to champion freedom throughout the world." He said, "Our national courage has been clear in times of depression and war. We must show courage in a time of blessing, by confronting problems instead of passing them on to future generations."
We did not know then how cruelly our will would be tested. On September 11th, we witnessed unprecedented evil. But even in great darkness, the American spirit burned bright. In the days following the attacks, resolve replaced fear. The desire to help a neighbor overcame despair. Being an American had new meaning and new responsibility.
And of course this was true for those in public service. Soon after September 11th, a good friend called me. She always teased about never wanting to be in my shoes. But one night, she said she saw me on the news and felt a pang of envy. She realized - and reminded me - that I had the opportunity to reach out to the American people and to children and comfort them. And in some small way, every one of us can reassure the world that freedom will prevail. Americans have done exactly this through countless acts of kindness and service.
The President and I are inspired by the American people's compassion. In every corner of the country, there is a renewed sense of patriotism and purpose. Families spend more time together. There is a greater appreciation for our military and our everyday heroes - America's police officers, firefighters and teachers.
On the Sunday after the attacks, the President and I attended church at Camp David with the Vice President and members of the President's Cabinet. Remarkably, the Psalm outlined in the lectionary for that September Sunday, was Psalm 27. It reads, "Thy face, Lord, do I seek. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Given the week's tragic events the words carried enormous meaning - because that is what we had seen. We had seen a handful of people commit an unbelievable atrocity, but we had seen many thousands trying to help. Because of this, I chose this psalm for our first White House Holiday card.
This goodness is not only being felt here in America, but throughout the world. Yesterday, I visited with Karen Hughes, who had just returned from a trip to Afghanistan where she took part in a meeting of the United States- Afghan Women's Council. This council promotes job training and advancement for Afghan women in the workforce and in government. Karen saw vividly the impact of America's involvement in the world. As she walked through the city, women and young girls rushed to her side. They expressed their thanks to the citizens of the United States for liberating their country.
They pleaded that the United States remain in Afghanistan so that freedom could take hold there.
In tiny towns where families had no windows or running water, she saw large bags of wheat with the United States seal on the side. She realized that the kindness of our nation is evident throughout the world. Our involvement in the world brings freedom and greater dignity to all people. We see this in the faces of Afghanistan's women. Once prisoners in their homes, today they are learning the joy of freedom through work and education.
I have never been more proud of our country or of the President. We have learned a great deal in the past two years. We value life and liberty even more. And although many of us have regained a sense of normalcy in our lives, we must not forget the lessons we have learned. For us, democracy is not a state of being - democracy is a state of living.
And freedom is not free. Every American can make our democracy stronger by being involved. We can "champion freedom throughout the world" by practicing the very virtues of liberty in our schools, communities and our homes. As we move forward, we must not forget our lessons in liberty or the women in Afghanistan. We must not forget what it means to be an American. Thank you. May God bless you and may God continue to bless America.