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Bush Gives Thanks for War Victory

April 7, 1991

HOUSTON (AP) _ President Bush attended church services Sunday to give thanks for the allied victory in the Persian Gulf War and pray for Iraqis suffering under government repression.

His voice at times shaking with emotion, Bush also offered a prayer for Iraq’s government, although not by name.

″Yes, we pray for our enemies that a just peace may come to their troubled land,″ he said in brief remarks at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church where he has long been a parishioner.

Bush marked what he had proclaimed as a national day of thanksgiving for the conclusion of the Gulf War.

″We thank you for sparing the lives of so many of our men and women who went to the gulf,″ he said. ″It is the time to give thanks to God not for winning the war, but for helping us to do what was right.″

After the church service, Bush headed to a meeting on trade issues with Mexico’s President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who stopped in Houston en route to Canada.

″On these special days of thanksgiving, we do have so very much for which to be thankful,″ Bush said at church. ″We are grateful for the long awaited liberation of Kuwait and the end of the terror rendered upon the Kuwaiti people.″

But he made only a brief reference to Iraqi civilians and rebels still beset by Saddam Hussein’s military.

″We ask you to protect the innocents who this very day are suffering in Iraq and elsewhere,″ Bush said.

Bush has been criticized in Congress for refusing to militarily assist Iraqi rebel groups and civilians who tried unsuccessfully to overthrow Saddam since the Gulf War ended. On Friday, Bush announced a military airlift to drop humanitarian supplies to Iraqi civilians fleeing to the border areas.

But Kurdish rebel leaders have appealed to Bush to use U.S. military forces still occupying Iraq to bring down helicopter gunships attacking the insurgents.

Bush has pledged not to involve U.S. forces in Iraq’s internal strife.

During the church service, Bush introduced two Persian Gulf War veterans: Air Force Capt. John Hunnell, who flew an F-16 fighter plane, and his wingman, Lt. Scott Long.

Electronic bells pealed after the service. Bush proclaimed April 5-7 national days of thanksgiving.

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