Few of the Lory Student Center’s televisions on Monday night showed President Bush addressing the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
And even fewer of the students interviewed watched or knew about the speech, in which Bush invoked images of brave firefighters and innocent victims of the terrorist attacks, then shifted gears and called the wars in the Middle East “a battle for civilization.”
In the student lounge, one television showed a movie on the Hallmark Channel featuring Dean Cain as a doctor. Another displayed a different made-for-television movie.
Lara Holland sipped beer at a Ramskeller table with several other students just after the end of Bush’s address. Neither of the televisions at the campus bar were tuned in to the speech, and Holland said she didn’t care either way. She saw one of his addresses last night, she said.
“I don’t like what Bush has to say about anything pertaining to Sept. 11,” the senior interior design and construction management double-major said. “I do believe he was behind it.”
At Cam’s shop, located in the Transit Center, one employee said he saw a bit of the speech on a television across from the convenience store.
“I think Bush is full of crap. You can jot that down,” said Vince Julian, a freshman open-option major. He said he wants to watch the rest of the speech to “see what kind of crap he spews out. What kind of crap he says today. He’s the president, so you have to listen to him – you just don’t have to agree with him.”
Bush began his speech condemning the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, calling the act “barbarity unequaled in our history.”
“On 9/11, our nation saw the face of evil,” Bush said near the beginning of his address, according to a White House transcript. “Yet on that awful day, we also witnessed something distinctly American: ordinary citizens rising to the occasion and responding with extraordinary acts of courage.”
He described “courage in office workers who were trapped on the high floors of burning skyscrapers,” plane passengers of Flight 93, and Pentagon staffers. He mentioned “firefighters and police officers who choke up at the memory of fallen comrades,” and “families gathered on a grassy field in Pennsylvania, who take bittersweet pride in loved ones who refused to be victims and gave America our first victory in the war on terror.”
Bush said that the Middle East is a region stifled by radicalism and yearning for peace, and that although deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein wasn’t involved in the terror plot, he was a major threat to peace.
He ended the speech saying Americans are “united in prayer” and spoke about an encounter with a soldier’s proud widowed mother, adding, “The spirit of our people is the source of America’s strength. And we go forward with trust in that spirit, confidence in our purpose, and faith in a loving God who made us to be free.”
Mary Branton, an LSC staffer, said she hadn’t seen the speech, but hoped to catch it later on National Public Radio.
When asked what she expected out of the presidential address, she said he’d probably begin with an emotional appeal, then “I expect he’ll probably use it as a platform to help drum up support for the Iraq war.”
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