Bush remembers Pearl Harbor aboard USS Enterprise
NORFOLK, Virginia (CNN) -- President Bush commemorated the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor Friday, telling the men and women aboard the USS Enterprise that their turn has come "to face freedom's enemies."
In a stirring speech to sailors recently returned from the conflict in Afghanistan, Bush said the United States will not waver in its "pursuit of freedom," just as it did not falter when Japan attacked the naval installation at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, six decades earlier.
"Just as we were 60 years ago in a time of war, this great nation will be patient, will be determined and we will be relentless in the pursuit of freedom," Bush said to the hundreds of servicemen and family members assembled on the deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which returned from the Arabian Sea last month.
The president paid tribute to the veterans who defended the United States in World War II, and recognized 25 veterans who witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor who were present at Friday's ceremony.
"The attack on Pearl Harbor was plotted in secret, waged without mercy, taking the lives of 2,403 Americans," Bush said. "The shocking chaos came on a quiet Sunday morning. There were acts of great heroism amongst those who survived and those who did not."
He described the valiant acts of some of the veterans who were at the base during the attack, noting that many refused to leave their ships even as they sank.
"They chose instead to stay and try to save their friends," Bush said. "A mess steward carried his commander to safety and then manned a machine gun for the first time in his life. Two pilots ran through heavy fire to get into their P-40 fighters. They proceeded to chase and shoot down four enemy aircraft. Those were among the scenes of December the 7th.
"The nation's grief turned to resolution. During four years of war, no one doubted the rightness of our cause. No one wavered in the quest of victory," he said. "As a result of the efforts and sacrifice of the veterans who are with us today and millions like them, the world was saved from tyranny."
The president also likened America's enemies in World War II to the terrorists it battles today.
"We've seen their kind before," he said. "The terrorists are the heirs to fascism. They have the same wield of power. The same disdain for the individual. The same mad, global ambitions. And they will be dealt with in just the same way. Like all fascists, the terrorists cannot be appeased. They must be defeated."
America's resolve, he said, has become clearer to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist organization, which the U.S. blames for the September 11 attacks. The Taliban regime that harbored bin Laden while it held power over Afghanistan also understands the nation's commitment, he said.
"Not long ago, that regime controlled most of Afghanistan. Today, they control not much more than a few caves," Bush said, eliciting loud cheers. "Not long ago, al Qaeda's leader dismissed America as a paper tiger. That was before the tiger roared."
He noted that history has seen Japan -- America's enemy in World War II -- become an ally. "Today our two navies are working side by side in the fight against terror. The bitterness of 60 years ago has passed away. The struggles of our war in the Pacific now belong to history.
"Many of you in today's Navy are the children and grandchildren of the generation that fought and won the Second World War," Bush told the assembled sailors. "Now your calling has come. Each one of you is commissioned by history to face freedom's enemies."
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