Bush 'resolute' as he watches military strike, honors fallen firefighters

Sunday, October 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush spent Sunday watching military developments in Afghanistan, shuttling between his White House residence and the Oval Office and meeting with top aides after his midday address informing the nation of the U.S. operation.

``I gave them fair warning,'' Bush told his spokesman, Ari Fleischer, in the Oval Office shortly after returning to the White House, referring to the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan and their refusal to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden. Aides described the president as ``resolute.''

Bush awoke at Camp David and flew to neighboring Emmitsburg, Md., where he addressed the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial service. The gathering was in honor of the 99 firefighters killed in the line of duty last year, and two who died previously.

But the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks _ and the impending U.S. response _ loomed large.

Bush ignored reporters' questions about a Taliban proposal to detain bin Laden and try him under Islamic law _ an 11th-hour bid to avoid possible U.S. military retaliation.

By then, American and British forces were already mobilizing for their attack.

In Emmitsburg, Bush honored the fallen firefighters and paid tribute to the more than 300 New York City firefighters presumed dead in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

``All these firefighters loved life. And scripture teaches there is no greater love of life than to lay down your life for another,'' he said. ``You can know that today your loved ones are not forgotten.''

Bush was somber at the service, closing his eyes for a moment of silence and prayer in which the Rev. Bevon Smith asked that Bush be granted ``wise judgment ... through these difficult times.''

From the memorial, Bush and first lady Laura Bush flew by helicopter to the White House, where he prepared to address the nation.