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Bustling Port-au-Prince Quiet on Quake Anniversary

A man with two children sits in the rubble of an earthquake damaged cathedral during a mass in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. AP Photo

This story was written by CBS News Radio correspondent Peter King

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Port-au-Prince stood still on Wednesday, kind of. A city that's usually bustling, full of traffic and roadside commerce had almost none of that as its residents and the rest of Haiti shut down to observe the first anniversary of the earthquake.

People went to church or in some cases attended observances outside church buildings that were either destroyed or too badly damaged to inhabit. One service was held at the park-turned-tent city I wrote about in this post. Thousands of people filled the streets surrounding it and the Presidential Palace to pray and sing.

My Haitian friend and translator, Johnson Petion, tells me "They're talking about how many people are happy because they're still alive today and how God saved their life."

Haiti: The Road to Recovery

Tom Kim, the executive director of a non-governmental organization called Churches Helping Churches, helped organize the event. He says, "It's a day for us to get together, not only to mourn for the losses -we're not minimizing it at all - but celebrating the life that God has given us. We all have a life we've been entrusted with. It's a gift and that's what we're celebrating. Definitely, there is some joy here."

I found the same spirit at other services, including a service attended by former president Bill Clinton; Haiti's president, Rene Preval; and singer Wyclef Jean. On Wednesday they were just three faces in a crowd of several thousand outside Haiti's National Cathedral.

There's a huge crucifix sculpture outside that Cathedral and it has an unusual feature. The sculpture, which includes the likeness of Jesus Christ, is all white except for the hair and beard. Two Haitian men tell me that after the earthquake the hair and beard turned black. They swear nobody climbed the cross to paint the hair; it just happened. Whether it's a sign is for them - and for you - to determine. I'm just a reporter.

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