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President Bush vows never to forget lessons of 9/11

During a visit to Ground Zero, Bush and his wife Laura lay wreaths and attend a prayer service. Have your say | In pics

india Updated: Sep 11, 2006 13:56 IST

US President George W Bush made a pilgrimage to New York's Ground Zero and said he would never forget the lessons of September 11.

The somber Bush and his wife Laura laid wreaths at Ground Zero, attended a prayer service nearby with families who lost loved ones, then shook hands with firefighters at a firehouse near where the World Trade Center's twin towers once stood.

"I vowed that I'm never going to forget the lessons of that day," Bush said.

"There's still an enemy out there that would like to inflict the same kind of damage again," Bush said. "So tomorrow is also a day of renewing resolve."

Bush's approval ratings soared and his presidency was transformed after he stood in the ruins of the World Trade Center days after the 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and sought to rally the country by shouting into a bullhorn.

But his ratings slid as US casualties in Iraq rose, and polls show many Americans now doubt his security policies.

Coming two months ahead of elections in which Democrats hope to wrest control of Congress from Bush's Republicans, the anniversary has triggered a partisan battle over whether the country is vulnerable to another attack and whether the Iraq war is a distraction from efforts to eliminate Al Qaeda.

Outside the World Trade Center site, several dozen people held up banners and shouted, 'Arrest Bush Now,' 'Bring the Troops Home' and 'Stop Exploiting 9/11'.

"This visit is another political ploy for Bush to try to sound like he is strong on security when our country is much less safe," said 77-year-old protester Ann Muyskens.

George and Laura then dropped wreaths into two dark pools of water in the footprints of the north and south towers, which collapsed in 2001 after hijacked airplanes smashed into them.

They bowed their heads as bagpipes played "America, the Beautiful."