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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Blunder over Bush's 11 September podium
Bush visits the damaged Pentagon
Bush vowed to hunt down the attackers
The podium from which President George Bush spoke to the nation following the 11 September terror attacks has mistakenly been sold to an American high school.

The lectern was bought for $75 by Arkansas City High School after it was sold as surplus property by city officials.

I saw this real nice podium. I thought, 'Goodness, I could use that for the school'

Gene Gregory, Arkansas City High School
It earned a place in US history after Mr Bush took to the stand to tell a shocked world that he would "punish those responsible for these cowardly acts".

The president was speaking during a stop-off at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bosier City, Louisiana, en route to a strategic air command headquarters in Nebraska, hours after learning of the attacks.

Surplus property

The podium's fate came to light when Department of Defense workers noticed it was missing.

Enquiries revealed that the Air Force had donated the platform to the Arkansas Federal Surplus Property programme, which sold the item to the school in Arkansas City.

Bush is told of the attacks
Bush learnt of the attack while visiting a Florida school

School Superintendant Gene Gregory said: "In just looking through stuff, I saw this real nice podium. I thought, 'Goodness, I could use that for the school'."

Teacher Diane Oliver said pupils were very excited after the podium's origins were revealed.

"They said, 'We have to go touch the podium. We have to touch history'," she said.

Kirbi Fletcher, who spoke from the podium at a graduation ceremony this week, said: "We're such a small school to have something like that."

The school has agreed to give the podium back to the surplus agency and will receive a replacement stand in its place.

The Air Force plans to put the podium on display at an exhibition at the 8th Air Force Museum showing what happened at Barksdale Air Force Base on 11 September.

See also:

12 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush statement in full
11 Sep 01 | Americas
President Bush to address nation
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