Bush Tells Troops 'Much More
Will Be Asked Of You'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush told U.S. troops on Tuesday that "much more will be asked of you" in Iraq and elsewhere as three days of ceremonies marking his inauguration got off to a somber beginning.
Bush is to be sworn in for a second four-year term at midday on Thursday on Capitol Hill and thousands of Republicans were flocking to Washington for the celebrations under extremely heavy security.
Police scrambled to handle an emergency a block away from the White House and near the planned route for the inaugural parade. Police surrounded a man in a van who claimed to have 15 gallons of gasoline and threatened to blow it up if he did not get his child back, the FBI said.
"It's domestic, not terrorism," said an FBI spokeswoman.
Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went to the MCI Center in Washington for an event called "Saluting Those Who Serve" that honored war veterans and the valor of the fallen in conflicts from the Revolutionary War to Iraq.
Among the 7,000 people in the audience were troops wounded in combat, 75 family members of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and as many as 80 winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military award. The event was beamed to troop gatherings in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bush told the troops that "much more will be asked of you in the months and years ahead."
"In Afghanistan and Iraq, the liberty that has been won at great cost now must be secured. We still face terrorist enemies who wish to harm our people, and are seeking weapons that would allow them to kill on an unprecedented scale. These enemies must be stopped, and you are the ones who will stop them."
The event included a number of tearful moments such as when Bush's father, former President Bush, read a letter he had written to his family after surviving the shooting down of his warplane by Japanese guns in 1944.
The decision to have the first official inaugural event honoring war veterans and those killed in war reflected the nature of Bush's first term, which was dominated by conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, prompting him to declare himself a "war president" a year ago.
Reflecting a theme for his inaugural address on Thursday, Bush said "the promise of liberty is spreading across the world" and cited Iraq's scheduled Jan. 30 elections, which insurgents are trying to derail with bloodshed.
"In coming days, the Iraqi people will have their chance to go to the polls, to begin the process of creating a democratic government that will answer to the people, instead of to a thug and a tyrant," he said.
Later, Bush hailed the spirit of volunteerism by attending a youth concert with the theme, "America's Future Rocks Today -- A Call to Service."
The $40 million inaugural events take place with polls showing Bush begins his second term without a clear mandate to lead the country.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll said 45 percent of those surveyed would prefer the country go in the direction Bush wanted to lead it, while 39 percent said Democrats should lead the way.
Democrats have vowed to fight many of his proposals. But Bush said his second term offered the chance for unity because "I'm no longer a threat politically."
"In other words, since I'm not going to run for office again people don't have to view me as a threat and hopefully that will enable people from both parties to come together to get some big things done for the country," he told Fox News.
(Additional reporting by Deborah Charles and Joel Rothstein)



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