[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 38, Number 23 (Monday, June 10, 2002)]
[Pages 949-953]
[Online from the Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to the Community in Little Rock, Arkansas

June 3, 2002

    Thank you all. It's nice to be back in Arkansas. Thank you for that 
great hospitality. You know, when I was Governor, you used to let me 
come across the river sometimes--[laughter]--that is, Governor of 
Texas--and it's good to be back. I'm so honored to be in this fine State 
with so many citizens. I'm here to give you kind of a sense about how 
things are going, at least from my perspective.
    Before I do, I want to thank Senator Hutchinson for his hard work on 
behalf of the people of Arkansas, and I want to thank him for his 
friendship. I appreciate so very much Senator Blanche Lincoln being here 
as well. Thank you for coming, Senator Lincoln; I'm honored to have you 
here. Congressman Boozman from up north is here. Thank you for being 
here, John. I'm glad you're here. I hope they're here to get some of 
this update and not because they want a free ride back to Washington. 
[Laughter] By the way, it's a nice way to travel, I want you to know.
    I've known your Governor for a long time. I'm proud to call him 
friend. I'm really--I know you're grateful for the job he's doing as the 
Governor of this important State, and I want to thank him.
    Mike's invited me to his church today; I'm going out there to talk 
about the need to be compassionate for people who hurt. And I can't wait 
to go. Mike, I want to thank you for the invitation for--to give me a 
chance to herald the great faith that exists throughout our country and 
the importance of faith in the lives of our citizens and the importance 
of faith to make sure our Nation is as strong and as decent and as 
hopeful in every neighborhood as is conceivably possible.
    And I appreciate Tommy Thompson traveling with us today. Tommy is 
the Secretary of Health and Human Services. He is a friend

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of mine as well. He's the former Governor of Wisconsin, who understands 
that welfare needs to help people help themselves. Tommy is doing a 
fantastic job as our Secretary of Health and Human Services.
    Not on our traveling team is the most popular person in my family, 
the First Lady of the United States. [Applause] I know. The same thing 
happened to my dad. [Laughter] But Laura was recently here in Arkansas. 
She's talking about her passions of education and helping people. And 
when I asked her to marry me, she was a public school librarian in 
Texas, and she didn't particularly care for politicians or politics. And 
here she is, First Lady of the United States--thank goodness, for the 
country. She's doing a great job.
    The family's doing well. Barney, the dog, is in great shape. 
[Laughter] Spot, the dog who was born at the White House when Mother and 
Dad were there, is getting a little up in the years, but she's doing 
well too. She's used to the confines of the South Lawn. And I invite her 
every morning into the Oval Office with me to start my day. Kind of in 
the southern tradition, I'm an early morning person. I get there about 
10 until 7 every morning, and Spot makes herself comfortable on the new 
carpet. [Laughter] That's why Barney's not invited in in the morning. 
[Laughter] But we're doing great.
    And before I begin the state of our Union, or at least how I see it 
right now, I want to thank all of you for your prayer. Many people in 
this State and around our Nation give the President the greatest gift a 
President could receive, and that is prayer. And it's a--it's not a 
Republican prayer; it's not a Democrat prayer. It's a prayer that's far 
greater than politics, and I know that. And I want to thank you for 
that, and I want to thank you for praying for our Nation as well, 
because we've got some challenges ahead of us.
    And there are some truths to the challenges we face. What's 
interesting is that we've been at war for 9 months. And that's a short 
time in the--generally, in the history of war. It seems like a long time 
to some. But not much time has passed, really, when you think about it. 
And we're making good progress, though. We are. We've got--we're 
learning a lot. We're learning that there are people that hate America 
because of our--the fact that we love freedom. That's what we've 
    I remember some children asking me, ``How can we be attacked? Who 
would want to hurt America?'' And the answer is, people that can't stand 
freedom. They hate the thought of a nation being tolerant about 
religion. They can't stand that we're allowed to worship freely in 
America. That bothers them. It bothers them that we can have good, open, 
and honest political discourse. It bothers them we've got a free press. 
It bothers them that we are the beacon to freedom, so when people look 
around the world for what freedom means, they look to America. And that 
bothers them.
    We've learned that this enemy is nothing but a bunch of coldblooded 
killers--coldblooded killers who hijack a religion. That's what we've 
learned. We've learned they're pretty resourceful and pretty devious. 
They'll hide in a cave, thinking that we'll quit. They're willing to 
send youngsters to their death, while they, themselves, are taking care 
of their own. That's who we're dealing with. And they're patient, and 
they're still determined--they're still determined. They've still got an 
army out there. Oh, it's not the kind of army we're used to when you 
think about war--certainly not the armies that fought on the continent 
of Europe. Just--as you know, I was honored to go to Normandy. What an 
unbelievable sight that is, by the way. And for all the World War II 
vets who are here, thanks from the bottom of our collective hearts for 
securing our freedom.
    We've learned that the new enemy, the enemy of the new wars of the 
21st century--they don't have lines of defense; they kind of meld into 
society. They take advantages of either weakness or freedom. That's what 
we've learned. And it's good to know that--it's good to know that.
    And they've learned some stuff about us. They've learned we're 
pretty tough when people come after America. They've learned that when 
it comes to defending our freedom, we'll defend it with all our might. 
That's what they've learned. They've learned that we love freedom, and 
it is nonnegotiable, our love for freedom.

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    They have learned that the United States has got a great military. 
They have learned that America is grateful for those who wear our--the 
uniform of our military. And they've also learned that this is an 
administration that understands, anytime we commit any of our young to 
battle, they deserve the best pay, the best equipment, the best training 
    The enemy probably thought that we were such a weak society, so 
materialistic and self-absorbed, that when they attacked that all we 
would do is file a couple of lawsuits. [Laughter] They've learned that 
that's not the way we think, that we're resolved.
    Much to their chagrin, they've learned that we're a patient nation, 
that the people of this country understand what I know, that this 
struggle for freedom is going to take a while. As a matter of fact, 
there is no--there's not a calendar that says it's got to quit by such-
and-such a moment; that if things aren't wrapped up by this election or 
this Super Bowl or this World Series that we're just going to fold up 
and go on home; that we're a patient people; that the American people 
understand that some days there will be moments of great drama on the TV 
screens, and sometimes there's going to be, you know, kind of a lull in 
the action; and that--that we understand that.
    And that's important in this war, that American people, much to the 
chagrin of the enemy and much to the delight of a grateful President, 
understand that we face a new threat, the likes of which we've never 
seen before, and that we will do what it takes to win the war.
    If there's a cave that needs to be searched, we'll search it. If 
there's a country that needs to hear again and again, ``You're either 
with us or you're against us,'' they'll hear it. We're on an 
international manhunt. And you just need to know, my fellow citizens, 
that even though it may not be prominent in the news, I think about 
defending this country every day and that we're after them, one person 
at a time. Anybody who thinks they're going to hurt America is going to 
be hunted down. The best way to defend--the best way to defend this 
country, the best way for me to do my most important job, which is to 
protect innocent Americans, is to go on the offense and chase them down 
one by one and bring them to justice, which is precisely what America is 
going to do.
    And we learned that we've got some work to do at home, that we can 
do a better job of defending the American people, which we are going to 
do. We know we've got to do a better job on our borders, understanding 
who's coming into the country and who's leaving and why they're here and 
why they haven't left. We know that we need to do a better job of that 
in order to defend the homeland.
    We know we've got to make sure we're ready for whatever happens. I 
want to thank the police and the fire and the emergency workers here in 
the State of Arkansas for the important job you do and let you know that 
part of our strategy is to make sure we've got a first-responders 
initiative and strategy that will make the homeland more secure. We know 
we need to do that, and we're doing that.
    We've got to make sure that we get the best intelligence possible. 
In this new war against this shadowy enemy, it's very important that we 
gather as much intelligence as we can. We need to know what they're 
thinking and what they're planning on doing before they do something. 
That's the best way.
    And we also know that at home we needed to have changed and are now 
changing our law enforcement agencies from--to a new strategy, one that 
not only chases down criminals and arrests them, but a strategy which 
works to prevent further attacks. So when you read about the FBI, I want 
you to know that the FBI is changing its culture. The FBI prior to 
September 11th was running down white-collar criminals--and that's 
good--was worrying about spies--that's good. But now they've got a more 
important task, and that is to prevent further attack. And so the FBI is 
changing, and they're doing a better job of communicating with the CIA. 
They're now sharing intelligence.
    My point to you is that whether it be at your airports or on a 
border or law enforcement, the whole mission of the Federal Government, 
working in conjunction with the State and local governments, is to 
protect the American people.

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    The enemy also knows that I'm really serious when it comes to 
routing out harm before it hits America. I don't know whether that's 
good or bad they know that, but they're learning that. They're also 
learning we're the kind of team that does what we say we're going to do. 
So when I said the other day that I'm concerned about these countries 
which develop weapons of mass destruction and we know they hate America 
and I intend to bring the diplomatic pressure or the pressure of the 
world and, if need be, act, I mean it.
    History has called this Nation into action. History has put the 
spotlight on America. History is going to write, did this country, in 
its position--unique position in the world, did we blink in the face of 
terror, or were we willing to lead the world to a more free and 
civilized society? And as far as I'm concerned, there's only one answer 
to that question, and that answer is, this great country will lead the 
world to a more safe and secure and free society.
    No, this Nation is plenty patient and plenty tough. And we're 
ready--we're ready. But you know what else I've learned? That out of 
evil can come some incredible good. Out of evil, out of the evil done to 
our country, we have a chance to not only keep the peace--and I want the 
youngsters here to know that when you hear about fighting, it's because 
we want the world to be peaceful. Our goal is peace. We never have 
sought revenge. This great country seeks justice. And we want you to be 
living in a world that is peaceful, so when you grow up, you can feel 
freedom and be free.
    But also at home, we have a chance to show, out of evil can come 
some incredible good. People say to me, ``What can I do to join this 
great country in the war on terror?'' And my answer is, love a neighbor 
like you'd like to be loved yourself. If you want to fight evil, do some 
good. You want to fight evil, help somebody who needs some help. And 
those acts can be great acts, or they can be small acts, but they all 
add up. Our society can be saved one heart and one soul, one conscience 
at a time. And I recognize while one person can't do everything, one 
person can do something to make a difference in somebody's life.
    You've seen how people have taken a look at their own lives and at 
their own soul since 9/11. You've seen moms and dads recognize their 
most important job, if they happen to have a child, is to love their 
children and remind them they love them. That's part of a compassionate 
society. There are people all across this country who are--who hear a 
call to help somebody. It's not a Government-issued call, really; when 
you think about it, it's a call of conscience and a call of heart. All 
the President can say, ``If you want to help, please help,'' and I do 
that all the time. We've got the USA Freedom Corps, Peace Corps, ways to 
help--and AmeriCorps.
    And today we've got with us Brenda Ross, who's a USA Freedom Corps 
honoree, full-time AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer. She works in making sure 
people who need food get food. She's working in Boys and Girls Clubs. I 
don't know where Brenda is, but anyway, she is part of the soldiers in 
the armies of compassion.
    And you can join that army of compassion, too, by mentoring a child. 
I told you, we're going to Huckabee's church--excuse me, Governor 
Huckabee's church--I call him Huckabee. [Laughter] This is a church 
which is helping welfare recipients learn a skill so they can work. 
There's nothing more--there's no more--there's no better way to earn 
dignity than to work. And this church understands that.
    We can fight terror by feeding people who are hungry. We can fight 
terror by loving the lonely. We can fight terror by insisting every 
child learns to read. We can fight terror by doing good, and that's 
happening all across America.
    The great strength of this country is not really our military. The 
great strength of the country is the people of America. The great 
strength of the country lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens, 
people who are willing to serve something greater than materialism and 
selfishness, people who are willing to serve something greater than 
    You know, that really came home to me most vividly on Flight 93. 
Think about that: People got on an airplane; they're flying across the 
country; and all of a sudden the call comes and says, ``Your airplane is 
going to be used as a weapon.'' And so they tell

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their loved ones they love them; they said a prayer; they took the plane 
to the ground to save somebody else's life.
    You see, it's that sense of serving something greater than yourself 
that we all can do--that we all can do--by showing compassion and 
decency and love. And as a result, we will show the world the true 
strength of America. We're going to keep the peace by being strong 
militarily and by doing our job, and we will win the war by being a 
compassionate, decent, honorable nation.
    It is such an honor--such an honor--to be the President of such a 
grand country. Thanks for giving me the chance.
    May God bless you all. May God bless America.

Note: The President spoke at 11:50 a.m. at the Statehouse Convention 
Center. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.