Bush on aircraft carrier to remember Pearl Harbor, honor U.S. troops in Afghanistan

Friday, December 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush, speaking on the deck of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is remembering Americans killed 60 years ago at Pearl Harbor and honoring U.S. forces fighting terrorism in Afghanistan.

``As we fight to defend what we believe is right, we remember the sacrifice of those who have gone before us _ not only the heroes of Pearl Harbor, but all the men and women of the greatest of generations who defeated tyranny,'' Bush said in a proclamation before departing Washington for Norfolk, Va., and a speech to sailors on board the USS Enterprise.

Bush had in mind the link between Dec. 7, 1941, the date of the Japanese surprise attack in Hawaii, and Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked New York and Washington.

``The tragedy of Dec. 7, 1941, remains seared upon our collective national memory,'' Bush said in his National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day proclamation. ``Now, another date will forever stand alongside Dec. 7 _ Sept. 11, 2001. On that day, our people and our way of life again were brutally and suddenly attacked.''

White House officials said Bush also wanted to use his address on the USS Enterprise to examine the changing nature of war over the six decades since Pearl Harbor, and the lessons learned so far in the Afghan conflict.

The president's overall theme: America's military forces must become increasingly flexible, fast and lethal while Americans must brace for a conflict that will test their patience like no other war in U.S. history.

``He's exploring the way the world has changed and how we must change to respond to it,'' said presidential counselor Karen Hughes.

So far, she said, the war has shown the value of being able to drop smart bombs from the air with the help of special forces pinpointing targets on the ground.

``He's impressed with how the military has married intelligence on the ground with the military in the air,'' she said of the president.

Both Pearl Harbor and the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon caught Americans by surprise.

The Pearl Harbor attack killed 2,390 service members and civilians and plunged America into World War II. The Sept. 11 attacks killed more than 3,000 people and led to the counterattack against terrorists and those who harbor them in Afghanistan.

Hughes said the president will stress the ways in which the present conflict, with its shadowy but deadly enemies, differs from World War II, when the enemy and the objective were clear.

She said Bush will repeat his theme that terrorism is an evil idea, an ``ism'' just like nazism and fascism.

``It's an ideology that seeks to impose its views on the rest of us,'' she said.

The nuclear-propelled Enterprise, commonly known as ``the Big E,'' was the world's largest warship when it was commissioned in 1961. This October it served as home base for jets attacking Taliban and terrorist targets in Afghanistan.