Louisianans for Building Fire Truck for New York
The South Lawn
The White House
December 19, 2001
1:50 P.M. EST
LOUISIANA GOVERNOR MIKE FOSTER: And now, Chief, it's your turn. That's an intro.
THE PRESIDENT: I guess he meant Commander in Chief. (Laughter.)
GOVERNOR FOSTER: I just called you "Chief," you're big into nicknames.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Governor, thanks for coming. You know, I always love Louisiana
and I love the people of Louisiana. And I always knew the people of Louisiana
were a little different -- (laughter) -- in a good way. And you just showed
the nation why.
So I want to welcome you all for coming. Thanks for being here, Mike. And it's
good to see the First Lady, too. Welcome to the White House, and welcome you
This "Spirit of Louisiana" truck really does show the deep concern
of the good folks of Louisiana. Everybody in our nation realized on September
11th, we were all affected. They might have hit right around the corner here
and they might have hit in New York City, but it affected all of us. And the
good people of Louisiana realize that.
I particularly love this story, about how Ronnie decides to do something on
behalf of the fellow citizens. So he gets on the phone and calls a local radio
personality -- the Governor. (Laughter.) And out of that came a huge volunteer
effort in the state of Louisiana to provide help and aid to the good people
of New York City.
And I think Americans needs to understand that this is the kind of story that
makes our country so unique and so different. It's a story that makes me so
proud to be the President of such a great -- such great land.
I want to thank Senator for coming. Thank you, Mary, for being here. I want
to thank the two congressmen for being here. John and David, thank you all for
coming. Welcome. I want to thank all the volunteers who worked on this project.
I want to thank the firefighters and police officers from the state of Louisiana
who have come. You obviously represent a noble profession and a profession that
really knows no borders. And you're on your way to express your solidarity with
people who fight fires -- they may talk with a different accent, but they share
the same dangers. And I appreciate you all coming, and I know people in New
York City are really anxious to have you up there.
One of the things I like to remind the enemy is, you thought you were going
to change America when you hit us. You thought by your actions and by your attacks
that somehow this nation was so soft that we didn't know how to respond. And
they're paying a terrible price for their miscalculation. We're making great
progress in the first theater of this long war to rout terror where it may exist.
I'm really proud of our military. I'm proud of the job they're doing. I'm proud
of the fact that we've set a clear goal with certain objectives, and those objectives
are being met.
I know the Governor likes to hunt rabbits down in Louisiana. Sometimes those
rabbits think they can hide from the Governor. But, eventually, he smokes them
out and gets them. And that's exactly what is happening to Mr. bin Laden, and
all the murderers that he's trying to hide in Afghanistan.
But the other thing that the terrorist doesn't understand was how strong our
-- the strength of America. They didn't understand that. And the strength of
America is our citizens, citizens who love each other; citizens who are decent;
citizens who when called upon can respond to any adversity. And that's exactly
what's happening here on the White House lawn today. People from all walks of
life, all politics parties, some of who probably have never been to New York
City before, have said, what can I do to help? How can I help somebody whose
lives have been adversely affected by the evil ones?
And behind me sits the answer -- one beautiful, well-manufactured truck, made
by an entrepreneur in Louisiana who asked his people to work overtime, and they
did, to deliver it here today. I know I speak on behalf of all Americans, thank
you for what you're doing. (Applause.)
No, they roused a mighty nation. They roused a mighty nation. And we will not
be stopped. We're not going to be stopped overseas -- (applause) -- and we're
sure not going to be stopped here at home.
I hope every family here and all the folks who volunteered to make this happen
have a wonderful holiday season. May God bless your families, and may God continue
to bless America. Thank you for coming. (Applause.)