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Bush tells nation: 'A mission goes on'

'What our enemies have begun, we will finish'

Bush: "For those who lost loved ones, it has been a year of sorrow, of empty places, of newborn children who will never know their fathers here on Earth."  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Capping a solemn day of mourning and painful memories, President Bush told the nation Wednesday night it had risen above "a year of sorrow" following last year's terrorist attacks to show its greatness, but said the battle against terrorism was not yet won.

"For all Americans, it has been a year of adjustment, of coming to terms with the difficult knowledge that our nation has determined enemies, and that we are not invulnerable to their attacks," Bush said. (Read transcript)

"Yet in the events that have challenged us, we have also seen the character that will deliver us," Bush said.

Speaking on Ellis Island -- with the Statute of Liberty over his right shoulder and an American flag over his left -- Bush addressed the nation one year after the worst terrorist attacks on American soil.

"Be confident. Our country is strong," Bush said.

The president's speech was a mixture of remembrance and resolve, paying tribute to those who lost their lives in the attacks and vowing to bring to justice those responsible for the deadly hijackings.

"We will not relent until justice is done and our nation is secured," the president said in the nationally televised address. "What our enemies have begun, we will finish."

Nineteen hijackers commandeered four commercial jets on September 11, 2001, guiding three of them like fuel-laden missiles into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon outside Washington.

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A fourth jet crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, apparently after passengers rushed the cockpit and foiled what some federal authorities believe was a plot to crash that plane into the White House. An estimated 3,025 people died in the attacks.

Bush spoke from New York City, its skyline forever altered and its psyche deeply wounded by the horrific collapse of the twin towers.

"For those who lost loved ones, it has been a year of sorrow, of empty places, of newborn children who will never know their fathers here on Earth," Bush said.

He paid homage to those who lost their lives in the attacks, the passengers who fought back on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania and rescuers "who rushed up flights of stairs toward peril."

The president made no direct mention of Osama bin Laden -- the mastermind of the attacks who remains at large -- nor another figure the administration has identified as a threat to world peace: Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

He did make a general reference to "tyrants" and said the United States would stand up to them.

"We have no intention of ignoring or appeasing history's latest gang of fanatics trying to murder their way to power," Bush declared.

The president said last year's hijackings represented "an attack on the ideals that make us a nation," and said those ideals and the "cause of human dignity" would prevail.

The day -- crisp and clear just like the skies of one year ago -- was full of symbolism and sorrow for Bush. Joined by the first lady, he visited each of the three sites where the planes crashed. (Full story)

The attacks transformed Bush's presidency, moving it well beyond one colored by a disputed election to one, as indicated by polls, largely supported by the American people. He is seen, as several experts have said, as a wartime president.

"Tomorrow is September the 12th," Bush said Wednesday night. "A milestone has passed, and a mission goes on."

From Producer Sean Loughlin in Washington.




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