SCMP Friday, October 5, 2001

Bush and pupils reflect on 'the day we were very sad'

SONYA ROSS of Associated Press in New York

In a school hallway outside a classroom, President George W. Bush scanned bright pictures under the words: "The day we were very sad."
The crayon images showed the flaming World Trade Centre towers and a firefighter, complete with hose, floating towards heaven with wings and a halo.
Mr Bush came to New York on Wednesday to hear the financial worries of business leaders and to try to calm the fears of schoolchildren three weeks after the September 11 terror attacks.
The President went from Wall Street to Chinatown to Little Italy, telling New Yorkers the rest of America was ready to help them.
"I am saddened by the sight of the World Trade Centre, once again," Mr Bush told business executives. "But through my tears, I do see a much better future for the country."
The President, joined by Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, visited firefighters at Engine Company 55. Five men from that company are missing in the World Trade Centre rubble.
"I know you're still looking for some of your brothers. Thank you for your courage," Mr Bush said. He chatted with Robin Freund, whose husband, Lieutenant Peter Freund, is missing.
While Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill told Congress about Mr Bush's desire for a US$60 billion to US$75 billion (HK$468 billion to HK$585 billion) economic stimulus package, Mr Bush was meeting about 30 corporate executives in Federal Hall, near the New York Stock Exchange.
Those who had the President's ear included Betsy Holden, chief executive of Kraft Foods; Kenneth Chenault, chief executive of American Express; AT&T chairman C. Michael Armstrong and William Harrison Jnr, chief executive of J. P. Morgan Chase.
"You have the support of everyone in this room," Mr Chenault told Mr Bush. "We will not succumb to this evil."
From there it was on to the P. S. 130, Hernando DeSoto Elementary School, where Mr Bush, Mr Pataki and Mr Giuliani led Debra Nelson's 26 first-graders in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
The President added his own sentiments to a white broadsheet poster where the children's feelings about America had been written in painfully neat letters. "I love America because I love freedom," Mr Bush wrote.
Mr Bush told the children their teachers were heroes. If they felt worried or confused, he said, they should talk to their teachers. "They want to comfort you. They want to make sure that you understand what went on," he said.
As Mr Bush spoke, he stroked the hair of Stephen, who was calmly sketching "I love America" in a notebook.
"Do you know what? There are a lot of people who love America today," Mr Bush said. "And one of the things that we're learning is what a great country this is."