President Bush told a class of 1st graders in New York City last week that even though the United States is saddened by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, America is still a great country where they can realize their dreams.
In a five-hour visit to the city on Oct. 3, the president sought to shore up confidence in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Accompanied by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, Mr. Bush met with business executives, consoled firefighters who had lost colleagues, and visited a class of 26 children at Public School 130 in Chinatown. The school was closed for nearly a week after the trade center attack because of smoke damage.
Mr. Bush praised the heroism of the school’s teachers, who shepherded their pupils to safety in the minutes after two jets slammed into the trade center’s twin towers. He told the children that their teachers loved them, and he urged them to share their worries about the attacks with their teachers.
“They want to comfort you,” Mr. Bush said, “and they want to make sure that you understand what went on.”
He encouraged the children to work hard to reach their goals.
“You live in a great country,” he said. “One of the things that we’re learning out of our sadness is what a great country this is. ... Study hard, because this country says, you work hard, you can realize your dreams.”
The president, who led the class in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, added his thoughts to a large, white wall poster titled, “Why I Love America.” He wrote: “I love America because I love freedom.”
In the hallway outside the classroom, Mr. Bush stopped to look at pictures the children had drawn about the Sept. 11 events. Under the words, “The day we were very sad,” children had drawn pictures of the World Trade Center towers in flames and of a winged firefighter drifting toward heaven.