(CNSNews.com) - In an address to the nation from Atlanta, President Bush Thursday called on Americans to be vigilant in the war against terrorism, but not to take a terrorism alert as "a call to stop your life."
He said Americans can help by making a commitment to service and volunteer in their communities. "There is a difference between being alert and being intimidated, and this great nation will never be intimidated," Bush said.
The president also praised America's police, firefighters, teachers, military, health care and postal workers "who never enlisted to fight a war, but find themselves in the frontlines of a battle nonetheless." Bush called the past two months "the most difficult and most inspiring months in our nation's history."
He said the terrorists want to destroy American freedom and impose its views.
"We value life. The terrorists ruthlessly destroyed it. We value education. The terrorists do not believe women should be educated or should get healthcare or should leave their homes. We value the right to speak our minds. For the terrorists, free expression can be grounds for execution," said Bush.
"We respect people of all faiths and welcome the free practice of religion. Our enemy wants to dictate how to think and how to worship, even to their fellow Muslims. This enemy tries to hide behind a peaceful faith," he said. "But those who celebrate the murderer of innocent men, women and children have no religion, have no conscience and have no mercy."
The president called on Congress to pass legislation to strengthen cockpit doors and "the federal government in charge of all airport screening and security." He also urged them to help the economy by passing a stimulus package.
The government, he said, is buying and storing medicines and vaccines to prevent future bio-terrorist attacks. The postal service is cleaning equipment and sanitizing the mail. He praised Tom Ridge, the director of Homeland Security and described the safety measures that have been put into place.
The Coast Guard has expanded its duties to guard the nation's coasts, while the National Guard is monitoring surveillance of the country's borders, the president said.
New licensing requirements have been implemented for safer transportation of hazardous materials. New anti-terrorism laws will allow for prevention of future terrorist attacks, while a new terrorism task force will allow for immigration monitoring, Bush added.
He said before the terrorist attacks, he planned to unveil a new initiative called "Communities of Character" designed to spark a rebirth of citizenship, character and service, but the events of Sept. 11 have caused the initiative to start on its own.
Financial donations for the victims' families have reached more than a billion dollars, the president said. He also pointed to the increased donation of blood across the nation, New Yorkers who had opened their homes to evacuated neighbors, and America's children who collected money for the children of Afghanistan.
Bush called on Americans not to give in to "exaggerated fears or passing rumors," but to instead rely on good judgment and common sense in the fight against terrorism.
He concluded by praising Todd Beemer, one of the passengers who fought the hijackers of doomed Flight 93 that crashed in Southwestern Pennsylvania and "whose last known words were the Lord's prayer and 'Let's roll'."
"We cannot know every turn this battle will take," Bush said. "Yet we know our cause is just and our ultimate victory is assured. We will no doubt face new challenges, but we have our marching orders. My fellow Americans, let's roll."