Promotes Funding for Emergency First Responders
Greenville, South Carolina
March 27, 2002
10:25 A.M. EST
Thank you very much. It is great to be back in South Carolina. I didn't realize
I was going to be giving an address on my old jogging path. (Laughter.)
Mr. Mayor, I have fond memories of your beautiful city. And thank you very much
for your leadership and your hospitality and thank you all for coming.
One of the things that I'm not surprised about is how the good folks of South
Carolina responded on September the 11th in the aftermath. The good people here
hurt for the people of New York, because they realized an attack on one part
of America was an attack on all of America.
And I want to thank you all for donating a brand new fire truck to New York
City. I want to thank you for sending men and women to New York City in response
to the emergency. I know that fire fighters and casualty experts, emergency
management director headed up north to provide help. And I'm here to thank you
for that. And I'm here also to thank you for what you do every single day.
You know, the evil ones hit us, but out of that evil has come some good. I'm
going to talk to you about some of that good. And one of the good things that's
come is a sincere appreciation and respect for the men and women who wear the
uniform, the police and fire and emergency medical units all across the country.
And I'm here to thank you as well for your dedication and your service to the
people of your communities here in South Carolina.
I appreciate so very much Tom Ridge's service. You know, he was a governor there
in Pennsylvania, just kind of cruising along. Life was pretty good. And then
the President called him and said, I've got an assignment for you, to come and
set a national strategy for our homeland security. The enemies hit us and we'd
better be ready in case the enemy hits us again, and we need a strategy.
And I'm telling you, he's come to Washington, D.C., with a vision and a capacity
and we're developing and have got a strategy, some of which I will share with
you today. And, Tom, I want to thank you for your service. (Applause.)
And I want to thank the other fellow on the stage here, Jim DeMint. He is a
strong congressman. (Applause.) He cares deeply about the people of this state.
He is -- he is an ally of mine in the House because he is a man of integrity.
He cares deeply about national issues and issues that affect the people here
in his district. He understands the need for us to be tough and diligent and
forceful when it comes to fighting terrorists. He understands the need for us
to be strong at home, as well.
And that's why he has led a discussion on a strategy to make sure that the textile
industry here in South Carolina gets not only the attention of the administration,
but a strategy to help people who work in the textile industry. This man is
a leader, and he needs to go back to Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
And we've got some other people from the fine South Carolina delegation, Lindsey
Graham is here, and a little later on, I'm going to try to give Lindsey a little
boost. (Laughter.) And I appreciate Hank Brown for being here as well, thank
you for coming. And I want to thank members of the State House who have come.
You've got a fine lieutenant governor and attorney general. Thank you both for
coming. And, of course, your speaker, a home-grown boy, David Wilkins. I'm honored
that you all have been here today. (Applause.)
I drove in and went by the BMW plant for about the hundredth time, and it was
good that I was traveling by it with Carroll Campbell, who made sure that the
BMW plant came here the first time around. Governor, it's good to see you. Thank
you for coming. (Applause.)
I want to thank the High Sheriff of Greenville County, Sam Simmons -- I don't
know if you call him the High Sheriff around here or not. But, play like you
do, if you don't. (Laughter.) But I want to thank the Sheriff, I want to thank
Willie Johnson, the Chief. I want to thank Tom McDowell, Chief of the Fire Department;
John Zaragoza, as well. And, again, I want to thank you all for coming.
The interesting thing about September the 11th is that even though the attacks
were on two major cities, it reminded us -- and in the aftermath reminded us
that we're all vulnerable as well. I mean, after all, you might remember that
some of the initial discussions after September the 11th about potential threat
was about crop dusters. Now, they don't have a lot of crop dusters, you know,
in Manhattan. They've got a lot of crop dusters in South Carolina or Texas.
In other words, some of the intelligence we were getting was that not only were
the enemy willing to use airplanes, obviously, as weapons, but what we were
concerned about was that they would use other methods -- like using a crop duster
to spray a weapons of mass destruction, if possible. It's an indication that
we had to be on alert to defend all sites and all locations in our country.
We knew they were evil. And we're beginning to learn how really evil their intentions
were after September the 11th. And that's why Tom and I and many of you all
and others around the country have got plans in place to defend power generating
plants, dams and reservoirs, livestock and crops, all kinds of areas.
I mean, the truth of the matter is, homeland security in the heartland is just
as important as homeland security in the big cities. And that's what we're here
to talk about today; to make sure that America is safe. See, that's my most
important job. My most important job is to work with federal, state and local
officials to prevent the enemy from hitting us again and taking innocent life.
I think about it every day. And even though they're still under threat and we
are under threat, we're getting better prepared every day. I sent a budget up
to Congress that reflects my priority. The first responders of America, all
across America, must have the resources necessary to respond to emergencies
and save lives. (Applause.)
In the budget we sent up, there is a thousand percent increase for first responders;
$3.5 billion, to make your jobs easier. I've requested $327 million right away,
right off the bat, to provide critical training and equipment to first responders;
$327 million will come this year, hopefully, $3.5 billion is for next budget
In places like Pickens, South Carolina and Union and Greer -- and, by the way,
I've been to all three, and enjoyed every minute of it. One of the bedrock principles
of small-town life is you help a neighbor in need. A volunteer firefighter in
Fort Mills, South Carolina put it this way: we may not be a big department like
New York City, but we have the same goal, to help our neighbors in time of trouble.
That's how you all feel, too. That's how the Crawford, Texas volunteer fire
department feels, as well. I'm a proud booster.
And one of the things we've got to do is to understand that we've got to strengthen
security in small town America, as well, by helping smaller communities and
smaller counties develop what we call mutual aid agreements. And in the budget
that I've submitted to Congress, there's $140 million to do just that.
If one town has got them a good hospital facility, another may be able to lend
fire trucks, a third may be a home to hazardous material experts -- but we've
got to develop these mutual pacts so that we can coordinate efforts, pool resources,
all aimed at helping a neighbor in need, if we need to.
So one of the things we're doing is focusing on the big cities, medium-sized
cities like Greenville. But we understand we've got to have a strategy for rural
South Carolina and rural America, as well. And I'm here to assure the good folks
of South Carolina that the strategies that we're putting out, the strategies
that we're going to outline and work with the states and local authorities on
will also include rural South Carolina, to make sure that assets are pooled,
personnel is coordinated. All aimed at buttoning-up the homeland of the United
States and preparing our country.
But I want you to know that the best homeland security, the best way to secure
the homeland and protect innocent life is to find the enemy wherever they hide
and bring them to justice. And that's exactly what we're going to do. (Applause.)
We will hunt them down one-by-one. And after September the 11th, we started.
And I said as plainly as I could speak, mustering up as much Midland, Texas
as I could find -- I said either you are with us or you're against us. (Applause.)
And I made it clear that if anybody harbored a terrorist or they fed a terrorist
or they hid a terrorist, they're just as guilty as the murderers who took innocent
life on September the 11th.
And thanks to a mighty United States military, the Taliban found out exactly
what I meant. (Applause.)
I'm proud of our military. And for those of you who have got a relative in the
military, I want you to thank them on behalf of a grateful nation. But we've
got to do more than thank them. We've got to make sure that they've got the
best training, the best equipment, the best pay possible. And that's why the
budget I submitted to the United States Congress not only includes a significant
increase for first responders and homeland security issues, but it is the largest
increase in military spending in two decades.
Because I understand that the price of freedom is high; but as far as I'm concerned,
it is never too high when it comes to the defense of freedom. (Applause.)
And that's what we're defending. We don't seek revenge. We seek justice. But
it's more than just justice. This nation will defend freedom. We defend the
freedom to worship; we defend the freedom to speak; we defend the freedom for
all Americans -- regardless of their background -- to enjoy a country that says
if you work hard, you can realize your dreams. That's what we defend.
And this enemy of ours hates what we stand for. They can't stand us. They're
ruthless murderers. And they must not have understood America when they attacked
us. They thought we were weak. They thought we were so self-absorbed in our
materialism that all we would probably do is just sue them. (Laughter.) Man,
were they wrong.
We've thrown the Taliban out. And this past weekend, for the first time, many
young women went to school. We went into Afghanistan not as conquerors, but
as liberators; as people who are willing to sacrifice to defend our freedoms.
The first phase of the war is over, holding people accountable for harboring
a terrorist. That message is now loud and clear. I think other governments have
heard that message. And the next message is this: we're going to keep you on
the run. If you're a killer, we're going to treat you for what you are, an international
criminal with no place to hide, no place to sleep.
Oh, I know some of them think there's a cave deep enough. We're patient, we're
determined, we're united. (Applause.) As proud and patriotic Americans, I can
assure you that this distance between September the 11th is not going to cause
me to weaken in my determination to defend our country and to fight for freedom.
I also want to explain right quickly what I meant when I was talking about the
axis of evil. Let me put it to you this way: we cannot allow nations that have
got a history of totalitarianism, dictatorship -- a nation, for example, like
Iraq that poisoned her own people -- to develop a weapon of mass destruction
and mate-up with terrorist organizations who hate freedom-loving countries.
We can't afford to do that for the sake of our children and our children's children.
History has called this nation into action, and we're not going to let the world's
worst leaders develop and maintain and deploy and aim at us or our friends the
world's worst weapons.
My fellow Americans, we've got a lot at stake. We've got a lot at stake at home
and a lot at stake around the world. We've been called, and I'm here to assure
you this great country is prepared and willing and will answer the call to freedom.
And I believe there's another calling at home, as well. I believe that we have
an opportunity to fight evil at home in a different kind of way than people
would have imagined. I'm asked all the time by people, what can I do in a war
against terror? You all are answering that call.
But there's something else I'd like for you and others in South Carolina and
around America to do. You see, in order to fight evil, we can stand strongly
in the face of evil with acts of kindness and compassion. We can better love
our neighbor like we'd like to be loved ourself.
You see, the great strength of America is not necessarily our military might
and it's certainly not our government, even though the system is great and the
military is strong. The great strength of America are the hearts and soul --
the great strength is the heart and soul of our country, that's our strength.
The strength of the country comes when somebody walks across the street to a
neighbor in need and says, what can I do to help you? When somebody walks in
to a shut-in and says, I care about you. Or somebody mentors a child, teaching
that child how to read. Or a church or a synagogue or a mosque comes up with
a program based upon faith of the Almighty to help a person whip alcohol or
drugs. That's the great strength of America.
And I believe out of this evil will come incredible goodness. I know this country
can stand squarely in the face of evil by loving a neighbor just like you'd
like to be loved yourself.
And today we've got a high school student, Gus Samuel. Please stand up, Gus.
Gus is here, because he is a living example of what I'm talking about. This
guy goes to high school, and yet he is active in the Salvation Army and he finds
time to work with youngsters in the Girls and Boys Club.
Our society can be changed one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time. And
it's the gathering momentum of millions of acts of kindness, because of guys
like Gus, that we will show the world the true heart of America. And we will
stand squarely in the face of the evil ones who did not understand who they
Out of the evil will come a more lasting peace if we're tough and firm. And
out of the evil will come a new renewal of heart in the greatest land on the
face of the earth.
May God bless you all, and may God bless America. Thank you all. (Applause.)