Bush welcomes Olympic flame to the White House

Saturday, December 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush helped pass the Olympic flame on Saturday between two runners touched personally by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Bush, bundled against the cold in a black wool overcoat and white cowboy hat, greeted Elizabeth Anderson Howell with a kiss on the cheek after she ran up the White House driveway and handed him a lighted torch. He used the torch to light an Olympic cauldron.

Howell's husband, Brady Howell, was killed in the attack on the Pentagon. Bush said her participation in the Olympic torch relay ``represents the strength shown by so many families after Sept. 11.''

``Liz, our nation prays with you during this holiday season,'' Bush said. ``We pray for peace and comfort for you and your family.''

Bush then lit another torch from the cauldron and handed it off to the next runner, George Washington University student Eric Jones. On the day of the attacks, Jones left campus and rushed to the Pentagon.

Over four days, he helped carry away the wounded and dug a red Marine Corps flag out of the rubble. Jones then drove to New York and spent several days helping rescuers there.

``I thank these two torch bearers for their courage and their compassion, for representing the best of our great country,'' Bush said.

From Washington, the torch headed to Baltimore; Wilmington, Del.; and Philadelphia.

By the time it Salt Lake City on Feb. 6, the torch will have covered 13,500 miles and have been handled by 11,500 people.