Bush hopes Americans never let 9/11 become a ‘distant memory’

By John Byrne
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO – Former President George W. Bush, in town to promote his memoir, said he worries that the 9/11 attacks will become a “distant memory.”

“One of the things that’s going to happen on September the 11th, it becomes like Pearl Harbor Day. It will be a distant memory,” Bush said while appearing with Mayor Richard M. Daley on Thursday morning at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago.

“A lot of people born in this country, that live in this country now, weren’t born on September the 11th,” he said. “For many in this room, it was a scar of the heart. And people forget that the, you know, that the Sears Tower was a target, a genuine target.”

The New York Times reported in 2003 that a senior leader of al-Qaida told U.S. interrogators that Chicago’s Sears Tower, now known as the Willis Tower, was on at least one list of possible targets for the 9/11 hijackers, along with the U.S. Capitol, the White House and the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Chicago police at the time downplayed the report.

Bush praised Daley for his actions on the day of the attack, including stepping up security at the tower.
“The mayor responded, and his people responded, brilliantly to the threat,” Bush said. “So this is one of the really interesting examples of federal, state and local cooperation.”

Bush has been touring the country to promote his book, “Decision Points.” In it, the former president said his “most meaningful accomplishment” as president was that terrorists were not able to launch another successful attack against the United States after 9/11.

“History can debate the decisions I made, the policies I chose, and the tools I left behind,” he writes. “But there can be no debate about one fact: After the nightmare of September 11, America went seven and a half years without another successful terrorist attack on our soil. If I had to summarize my most meaningful accomplishment as president in one sentence, that would be it.”