MOUNT VERNON, VA. -- Marking George Washington's 275th birthday, President Bush linked the ideals of the first president to the war being fought by the 43rd, saying yesterday that Washington's goals guided the nation's quest to extend freedom beyond its borders.
"George Washington's long struggle for freedom has ... inspired generations of Americans to stand for freedom in their own time," Bush said in a visit to Mount Vernon.
"Today, we're fighting a new war to defend our liberty and our people and our way of life," he said. "And as we work to advance the cause of freedom around the world, we remember that the father of our country believed that the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone."
Quoting the first president - and referring, by implication, to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan - Bush said: "He once wrote, 'My best wishes are irresistibly excited whensoever in any country I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom.'"
Bush spoke for nine minutes at the edge of the snow-covered bowling green in front of the first president's mansion overlooking the Potomac River.
"I feel right at home here," he told an audience of several hundred. "After all, this is the home of the first George W."
Earlier, Bush and his wife, Laura, presented a wreath at Washington's tomb. Yesterday was the federal holiday designated as Washington's Birthday and observed by some agencies, states and local governments as Presidents Day.