A war abroad without end and terror at home that cannot be fully explained. Those twin dilemmas weighed heavily on President George W. Bush as he made his second major address to the nation since the September 11 terrorist attacks - a speech peppered with reassuring words that testified to the deepening complexities of the tasks at hand. Across the country ordinary Americans now wince when they open their mail - fearing it may be laced with deadly anthrax spores - and say a silent prayer when they see their children off to school. 'We are a different country than we were on September 10; sadder and less innocent; stronger and more united; and in the face of on-going threats, determined and courageous,' he said, a comment highlighted by the stark fact that his Government has not yet traced the source of the anthrax exposures which have killed four Americans. Repeated applause could not hide the fact that there were few new lines and, more importantly, no new revelations about the military's chances of victory or about its strategy in Afghanistan. There was little of the soaring rhetoric or sense of history of his earlier speech to Congress. In fact it was almost as if Mr Bush was battling the law of diminishing returns after weeks of White House sound-bites. Just one major domestic television network carried the full speech live during prime time. Some news shows seemed to give as much coverage to an address by the First Lady, Laura Bush, in which she urged greater efforts to counsel America's children. Others homed in on a New York promotional advert that showed former secretary of state Henry Kissinger fulfilling a fantasy by dashing around the bases at Yankee Stadium. The impact of the speech seemed decidedly muted - a reflection of the fact that, as the weeks go by, Americans increasingly want hard results, not rhetoric. Mr Bush's popularity and credibility remain near the stellar levels they hit immediately after September 11 but, as domestic threats continue, faith in his administration has faltered. To counter this, Mr Bush appealed for direct public support to 'fight our national challenge'. Speaking to a crowd of 5,000 emergency workers and civil servants in an Atlanta stadium, he urged Americans to volunteer for new subsidised programmes to help hospitals, fire departments and police now stretched to the limit. 'One way to defeat terrorism is to show the world the true values of America. Out of evil can come great good,' Mr Bush said. He suggested the United States could do a better job projecting its values abroad. 'Too many have the wrong idea of Americans as shallow, materialistic consumers who care only about getting rich and getting ahead,' he said. 'This isn't the America that I know.' And he spoke of the passengers who fought with hijackers on September 11, crashing their plane into a Pennsylvania field before it could reach a populated area. He recalled 32-year-old Todd Beamer, whose last words as passengers charged the terrorists were: 'Let's roll.' 'We will no doubt face new challenges,' Mr Bush said. 'But we have our marching orders. My fellow Americans, let's roll.' The President again felt the need to ask for his nation's faith. 'We cannot know every turn this battle will take. Yet we know our cause is just and our ultimate victory is assured,' Mr Bush said. In future, such assertions may need to be backed by progress in his 'new war' and by a lessening of the fear coursing through Americans' veins.