MOUNT VERNON, Virginia (Reuters) - President George W. Bush linked the U.S.-led war on terrorism on Monday to the country's struggle for independence led by George Washington more than 200 hundred years ago.
Bush visited the snow-covered grounds where Washington lived and died and which today is a popular tourist attraction.
Joined by his wife Laura, with a military honor guard wearing Revolutionary War uniforms standing at attention, Bush laid a wreath at the tomb of the first American president on the Presidents Day holiday to mark Washington's birth 275 years ago.
Standing before the Mount Vernon mansion and sharing the stage with an actor dressed as Gen. George Washington, Bush said Washington's Revolutionary War leadership inspired generations of Americans "to stand for freedom in their own time."
"Today, we're fighting a new war to defend our liberty and our people and our way of life. 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," 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 said.
Bush is locked in a dispute with the Democratic leaders of the U.S. Congress over his deployment of 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq, which Bush considers a central front in the war on terrorism.
The House of Representatives voted last week to oppose his troop buildup in a nonbinding resolution, while a similar measure in the Senate failed to advance due to opposition from Bush's Republican allies.
The real test of Bush's Iraq policy is to come in weeks when the House and Senate consider the president's $100 billion request for funding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bush has vowed to fight hard against any attempt by members of Congress to reduce funding for U.S. troops.