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Text: Sens. Daschle and Lott Remark on Bush's Address

Thursday, Sept. 20, 2001

Following is the full text of Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle and Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott joint remarks following President Bush's address to the nation.

DASCHLE: Earlier today, about 40 members of the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, visited ground zero in New York. It is impossible to describe the utter devastation and the feeling you get standing among the ruins.

I always thought that seeing the twin towers rising above New York was an inspiring sight. But today we saw something even more inspiring. We met some of the firefighters, the rescue workers, who continue to comb through the wreckage. We talked to survivors and family members. We saw men and women going back to work, children going back to school, people going on about their daily lives with incredible courage, refusing to be cowed by terror.

If the people of New York and New Jersey can do that, surely the rest of us can do what President Bush is asking of us. Tonight, the president asked for our unity. He asked for our support. He asked for our patience. We want President Bush to know--we want the world to know, that he can depend on us.

We will take up the president's initiatives with speed. We may encounter differences of opinion along the way, but there is no difference in our aim. We are resolved to work together, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans.

We will do whatever is needed to protect our nation. Nothing is more urgent.

I commend the president for the work he has done in rallying the world. We are grateful to the many nations who are standing with us tonight. Together, we will defeat this most insidious of threats.

We will be fierce in the defense of our ideals.

We will not sacrifice the freedoms that have sustained this nation for more than two centuries.

We must not punish entire groups for the actions of a misguided few. Just as we are united tonight against terrorism, so too must we be united against the acts of hatred toward innocent Arab Americans and Muslims and all of those who have come to our country seeking opportunity.

Hardship and heartbreak are not new to us. We Americans have endured great challenge and struggle, yet none has ever broken us. Our greatness in times of trouble is what distinguishes us as a nation.

Tonight the president has called us again to greatness. And tonight we answer that call.

LOTT: What normally happens when the president of the United States addresses a joint session of Congress, the leaders of the opposition party gives a statement and they respond. Tonight there is no opposition party. We stand here united, not as Republicans and Democrats, not as Southerners or Westerners or Midwesterners or Easterners, but as Americans.

I guess there are those in the world that thought that this would pull us apart; we would start blaming each other and we wouldn't come to each others aid. Well, we saw it in New York City today.

Firemen and policemen and volunteers, men and women from all over America and other countries were there together working to recover from this horrible, horrible incident.

There's been a lot of sorrow and a lot of tears. We've all grieved together, because it was not New Yorkers or Pennsylvanians or Virginians or military men and women or these volunteers that lost their lives. It was all of us. We've all suffered.

But now we must pull together. The Congress has already started acting in concert with this president of the United States. Tonight he gave us a call to action. He said all the right things. He reached out to those that are grieving. He gave a challenge to us here in America. He asked for our patience.

And he told those that would heap terror on America and the world that we will not stand for that. We will fight for freedom here at home and all around the world.

Some people say maybe we're waving the red, white and blue, the flag too much: on our cars, on our homes, in our businesses and in our schools. It's not just about the flag. It's about those that died. It's about those that are going to fight for freedom and to stop this reign of terror. It's one way we can embrace those that have gone and those that are going to do the right thing.

It's not a trite phrase, and I've heard it all over America this last week: We are together when we ask that God bless America.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company