NEW YORK CITY (BP)–Thousands of New Yorkers, many weeping, stood silent at the stroke of noon in memory of the thousands feared lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
In Washington, President Bush joined mourners at a service to mark Friday’s National Day of Prayer and Remembrance at the National Cathedral as a gloomy canopy of gray clouds expelled a steady rain over the nation’s capital.
In New York, umbrellas provided little protection from heavy rains. Still, mourners flocked out of subway stations and downtown office buildings to pray at impromptu prayer gatherings.
At Union Square hundreds of people lit candles and laid bouquets of flowers the base of a statue.
Like many of those at the noontime service, Hillary Meltzer was weeping uncontrollably. Clutching her year-old daughter, Meltzer said she could not understand the evil that transpired on Sept. 11.
“I am so very lucky because no one in my family was killed,” she said. “But I do have friends who lost loved ones and it’s so, so sad.
“I came out here this afternoon just to be around people,” Meltzer continued. “I just need to be around people.”
June Bae, of Queens, said the terrorist attack brought “tears to my life and this is my way of trying to understand this.”
Alex Ketler, of Greenwich Village, told Baptist Press he came down to the pay his respects. “I work in an office near the World Trade Center and heard the explosions,” he said. “It was the most atrocious thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Bill Abraham, of Worchester, Mass., who came to New York two days ago to help with rescue efforts, said, “It’s good to be here and to be able to pray together,” while Tamrah Edwards, who just moved to the city from Atlanta, said, “As Americans we have stay united and strong as a country.
“This hit so close to home,” Edwards said. “Our whole nation is affected by it. And even though I’m not active in a local congregation, it makes me think that I should be.”
At the National Cathedral in Washington, former Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford as well as former Vice President Al Gore joined Bush at the national prayer service to honor the thousands of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Bush declared Friday a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, asking Americans to attend religious services of their choosing on their lunch hour to pray for the victims of the terror attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania and also for the thousands involved in recovery efforts.
After the service, Bush was scheduled to fly to New York to survey the damage in lower Manhattan and offer his thanks and good wishes to the workers clawing through the mangled remains of the two World Trade Center towers and surrounding buildings. The president maintained a low public profile early in the day Friday, attending a national security meeting, and fielding several telephone calls.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: NEW YORK MEMORIAL, GROUND ZERO and LIGHTING A CANDLE.