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Remembering

September 14, 2001 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: Just before noon, much of official Washington past and present gathered at the National Cathedral, part of a nationwide day of prayer. Among the hundreds in attendance: Former President Clinton and former Vice President Gore. Former Presidents Ford, Carter and Bush, President Bush and his entire cabinet, the Supreme Court and the Congressional leadership. Absent was Vice President Cheney, who has been at Camp David since yesterday. The multi-faith service included words from Islamic, Jewish, Catholic and Protestant leaders.

THE VERY REV. NATHAN BAXTER, Dean, Washington National Cathedral: Today, we gather to be reassured that God hears the lamenting and bitter weeping of Mother America because so many of her children are no more. Let us now seek that assurance in prayer for the healing of our grief stricken hearts, for the souls and sacred memory of those who have been lost. Let us also pray for divine wisdom as our leaders consider the necessary actions for national security, wisdom of the grace of God that as we act, we not become the evil we deplore.

IMAM MUZAMMIL SIDDIQI, Islamic Society of North America: In broken and humble hearts and with tears in our eyes we turn to You, oh, Lord, to give us comfort, help us in our distress, keep us together as people of diverse faiths, colors and races. Keep our country strong for the sake of the good and righteousness. And protect us, oh, Lord, from all evil.

REV. BILLY GRAHAM: I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the mist of suffering. We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers built on solid foundation were examples of the prosperity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people and a nation, or whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild the foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: On Tuesday, our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes and bent steel. Now come the names, the list of casualties, we are only beginning to read. They are the names of men and women who began their day at a desk or at an airport, busy with life. They are the names people who faced death and in their last moments called home to say, Be brave and I love you. They are the names of rescuers, the ones whom death found running up the stairs and into the fires to help others. We will read all these names. We will linger over them and learn their stories, and many Americans will weep. America is a nation full of good fortune, with so much to be grateful for, but we are not spared from suffering. In every generation, the world has produced enemies of human freedom. They have attacked America because we are freedom’s home and defender, and the commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time.

KWAME HOLMAN: At the President’s request, services and remembrances were held across the country. At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, travelers simply observed a moment of silence. America’s loss was shared around the world: In Berlin, New Delhi, India and Rome. At St Paul’s Cathedral in London, Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Tony Blair joined 2,000 others to remember the American victims of terrorism. At about 4:00 this afternoon, the President arrived in New York, first getting a view from a helicopter of the World Trade Center site, then touring the area with New York’s elected officials. The President personally thanked some firefighters, police officers, and other recovery workers, then addressed the teams through a bullhorn.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I want you all to know that America today… America today is on bended knee in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, for the workers who work here, for the families who mourn. This nation stands with the good people of New York City and New Jersey and Connecticut as we mourn the loss of thousands of our citizens.

PERSON SHOUTING: I can’t hear you.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I can hear you. (Laughter and applause) I can hear you, and the rest of the world hears you, and the people — (cheers and applause) and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon. (Cheers and applause)

PEOPLE CHANTING: U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The nation– the nation sends its love and compassion to everybody who’s here. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for making the nation proud, and may God bless America.

KWAME HOLMAN: The President was expected to be at Camp David by tonight.