Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the president drew comparisons between that 20th-century conflict and current wars on terror and in Iraq.
"As we mark this anniversary, we are again a nation at war. Once again war came to our shores with a surprise attack that killed thousands in cold blood," he said at a naval base here, referring to Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
He said that as in the time of World War II, the United States now faces "a ruthless enemy" and "once again we will not rest until victory is America's and our freedom is secure."
Bush invoked the memory of his father as a young Navy pilot shot down over the Pacific and of an optimistic Franklin Roosevelt, president during the war, calling on Americans to defend liberty. He portrayed Roosevelt's vision as similar to his own — a commitment to spreading freedom even when U.S. allies were not convinced it was the best course.
"Franklin Roosevelt refused to accept that democracy was finished," Bush said. "His optimism reflected his belief that the enemy's will to power could not withstand our will to live in freedom."
Bush praised veterans of World War II two weeks after the anniversary of the Aug. 14, 1945, surrender by Japan that ended that conflict.
"The freedom that was born of your sacrifice has lifted millions of God's children across the Earth," he said while standing in the shadow of the red, white and blue-adorned USS Ronald Reagan, the newest aircraft carrier in the U.S. fleet.