War and Conflict


Where was the president on September 11?

President George W. Bush (1946-) began the day at a Sarasota, Florida, elementary school, where he was expected to speak on his education program. At 9:00 A.M. he was notified of the first plane crash into the World Trade Center’s north tower. He was preparing to make his planned speech when, a few moments later, he was told of the second crash. After consulting with advisers, he addressed the gathering at 9:30 A.M., saying there had been “an apparent terrorist attack on our country.” At 9:57 A.M., Air Force One, with the president on board, took off from Florida. By 10:00 A.M. Bush had ordered the nation’s military to high alert status around the world. At 11:40 A.M., the president’s plane landed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. There he remarked to the press, “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.” Shortly after 1:00 P.M., Air Force One departed Louisiana and headed to Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base.

Throughout the day the president was in contact with his top advisers, including Vice President Dick Cheney (1941-), who was reported to be in a “secure location” in Washington, D.C. At 4:36 P.M. the president’s plane took off from Offutt to make the trip back to Washington. Bush arrived at the White House aboard presidential helicopter Marine One after Air Force One made an escorted landing at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. First Lady Laura Bush (1946-) arrived back at the White House separately via motorcade; she, too, was reportedly in a “secure location” throughout the day. At 8:30 P.M. the president addressed the nation via a televised broadcast from the Oval Office. In part he said, “Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.” He went on to say, “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” Further, he promised that the search was underway for those responsible, and he said the nation would stand with its friends and allies to “win the war against terrorism.” He ended his day with a National Security meeting, which lasted nearly two hours.


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