When Fredericka von Stade finished singing a program of operatic airs and show tunes at the White House, President Bush immediately signaled for an encore.

The mezzo-soprano said coyly that as a tribute to Bush, she would finish with "the No. 1 pop single" from the Grammy Awards."See if you recognize it," she said.

Her voice rose in song, filling the East Room with the familiar strains of "The Star Spangled Banner."

Instantly, Bush, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and 125 guests at the state dinner Wednesday night rose to their feet. By the end of the national anthem, first lady Barbara Bush was wiping tears from her eyes.

The president rose to embrace the opera star, calling her selection a fitting end to "a magnificent state visit."

Bush fended off reporters who asked when the ground war against Iraq would be launched.

"Watch and wait. Watch and learn," he advised.

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In his toast, Bush recalled Danish resistance against Nazi Germany and paid tribute to the Danes for sending a warship to the Persian Gulf to "stand together against another brutal dictator."

He also noted that the guests at the glittering dinner included not only Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but the top enlisted men in the Army and Navy, Sgt. Maj. Julius W. Gates and Master Chief Petty Officer Duane R. Bushey.

"Our country is united behind them totally, today, exactly as we were united in World War II, and patriotism is high here now," he told the queen.

"Our purpose is clear and our mission is just and we are going to prevail and your forces and ours will guarantee that the torch of freedom will illuminate Kuwait."

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