U.S. President George W. Bush laid two wreaths and vowed a "renewed resolve" Sunday at the site of the World Trade Center in New York ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Bushwas accompanied to the site by his wife, Laura, NewYorkMayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Gov. GeorgePataki and Rudy Giuliani, the mayor at the time of the attacks.
Bush and the First Lady stood for a moment of silence at each of the reflective poolsmarking the sites of the twin towers, escorted by a Marine honour guard as bagpipes played in the background.
After laying the wreaths, Bush and hiswifeattended a remembrance service for the victims atSt. Paul'schapel near the site of the twin towers. The chapel served as a makeshift rest area for those who worked to rescue victims in the days after the towers fell.They also stopped by a rebuilt firehouse to greet firefighters.
"Laura and I approach tomorrow with heavy hearts. It's hard not to think about people who lost their lives," Bushsaid after meeting with relatives of 9/11 victims at a visitor centre near the firehouse. The original firehouse, on the rim of the pit, had been destroyed in the attack.
"Tomorrow is a day of sadness for a lot of people," Bush said.
"I vowed that I'm never going to forget the lessons of that day â¦ So tomorrow is also a day of renewed resolve."
Bush's presidency has been largely defined by the terroristattacksfive years agoand the country's subsequent military response —first in Afghanistan, then the extension of the Bush administration's so-called "war on terror"to Iraq, where more than 2,500 U.S. troops have died and sectarian violence has flourished in the three years since U.S.-led coalition forces invaded.
On Monday, Bush is scheduled tomeetwithsurviving firefighters whoattempted to rescue those trapped in the burning towersafter two hijacked passenger planes were deliberately flown into them.
He will also visit the Pentagon, which wasstruck bya third plane, as well as the crash site of the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into a farmer's field inPennsylvania.
Bush will later make a formal televisionaddress to the nation on Monday evening to reflect on the attacks, White House press secretary Tony Snow told Reuters.
Rice in Nova Scotia
Bush's appearances come as a senior member of his administration is scheduled to mark theanniversary of the 9/11 attacks in Canada.U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Nova Scotia on Monday.
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said he invited Rice to his home province after their first meeting in April.
Nova Scotians played host to thousands of stranded American travellers on Sept. 11, 2001, when their planes were forced to land in Halifax after allflights were grounded.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday that Rice wanted to express gratitude on behalf of Americans for Canadians opening their borders and homes to those stranded in the attacks.
David Wilkins, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, will be in Gander, N.L., on Wednesday to honour the community that also played host to thousands of air passengers on many transatlantic flights destined for U.S. cities that were re-routed there.
PM to speak to nation
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will make a televised statement on Monday to honour the victims of the attacks. Harper will make a brief speech, in both official languages, from the Hall of Honour in the Parliament Buildings.
This is the first year Harper will mark the anniversary as prime minister. But as Opposition leader, he has attended commemoration ceremonies in the past.
Twenty-four Canadianswere among the almost 3,000 people killedin the attacks.
The prime minister is expected to address concerns over Canada's role in Afghanistan, wheremore than 2,000Canadian troops are in the midst of battling insurgents.