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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
Bush rallies US against terror
George W Bush at 4 July celebrations in Ripley, West Virginia
Bush: 'When you strike one American, you strike us all'
US President George W Bush has issued a rallying call to Americans and a warning to the country's enemies at the first Independence Day celebrations since the 11 September terror attacks.

Police redirect traffic near the Washington Monument
Security was heightened around the capital
It came as people across the United States enjoyed the Fourth of July holiday amid an unprecedented security operation.

Mr Bush said the United States had a proud tradition of fighting for freedom dating back 226 years to the declaration of independence.

"From that day in 1776, freedom has had a home and freedom has had a defender," he told an audience at Ripley, West Virginia.

After praising America's diversity of races and religions, the president turned to the attacks on New York and Washington last September.

"In a moment we discovered again that we are a single people - when you strike one American, you strike us all," he said to cheers and applause.

'Precautionary'

The White House Office of Homeland Security is monitoring more than 2,000 Independence Day events throughout the country.

In what the Bush administration described as precautionary measures, military jets are patrolling the skies above key cities while thousands of extra police, troops and FBI agents have been deployed across the country.

Statue of Liberty
National landmarks are being heavily guarded
A particular focus of the Fourth of July celebrations is the national mall around the Washington monument, where hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather at nightfall for a fireworks display.

This year, there will be extra surveillance cameras and security fencing and more screening and searches of visitors, in an operation supervised by 2,000 police.

In New York, everyone taking part in the celebrations has to pass through a special security checkpoint.

About 4,000 police officers - some of them in civilian clothes - have been deployed across the city.

Afghan celebrations

But despite the security concerns, millions of Americans appeared determined to enjoy their Fourth of July diet of barbecues, partying, travel and fireworks.

"I don't think I will ever feel completely safe again," said Sonny Palazzo, a Connecticut resident. "But I can't let it ruin my life, either."

Security was also stepped up at US facilities overseas, particularly in the Middle East.

In Afghanistan, US forces held low-key celebrations with barbecues, sports games, and music, but no fireworks.

Security around the perimeter of Bagram air base, their Afghan headquarters, was tightened, as troops inside the compound played basketball on a helicopter pad.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Bryant
"There's a big brother feel to a holiday that celebrates freedom"
American visitors to London
speak about concerns over Fourth of July celebrations

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Fourth of July
Can Americans feel safe as they celebrate?
See also:

04 Jul 02 | Americas
02 Jul 02 | Americas
02 Jul 02 | Americas
11 Jun 02 | Americas
11 Jun 02 | Americas
04 Jul 02 | Americas
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