Sharing Grief And Prayers

President Bush drives British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in a golf cart after welcoming him to the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., Sunday, July 29, 2007.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
President Bush Friday led Americans in prayers for the dead and missing in terror attacks in New York and Washington, and warned that the country is "fierce when stirred to anger."

"We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great a loss and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come today before God to pray for the missing and the dead and for those who love them," Mr. Bush said

The mighty gathered in Washington, where Mr. Bush and four former presidents assembled at the National Cathedral. Everyday citizens embraced, prayed and cried together in their own houses of worship.

Bush wove in messages of America's resolve to combat terrorism while honoring the heroes of this week: the firefighters who lost their lives at the World Trade Center; the passengers who resolved to battle the hijackers on one jet; the volunteers who raced to New York to help treat burn victims.

Palestinian schoolgirls observe a moment of silence in Nablus

"Our responsibility to history is already clear, to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil," Mr. Bush said.

The president was joined by former Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford, along with members of Congress and cabinet members. Billy Graham, an octogenarian now struggling with Parkinson's disease, delivered a sermon.

"Today, we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot and to those who carried it out, the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes," Graham said.

Around the country, Americans gathered for their own services.

Sheltered by umbrellas, a crowd of people clustered outside the entrance of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York at the noon hour, spilling onto the sidewalk. Two blocks north, a long line of people streamed into another church on Fifth Avenue.

About 100 people prayed at the Central Congregational Church in Providence, R.I.

A woman weeps during a service outside Buckingham Palace

"If there can be any good that comes from this horrific tragedy, it's that we come together and put our differences aside," said Maura Mullaney, of Providence.

About 3,000 people gathered before he Florida Capitol at noon. A huge flag hung behind political leaders and Christian, Jewish and Muslim representatives.

An ecumenical service at a cathedral in downtown Lansing, Mich., also included speakers from the Islamic, Christian and Jewish faiths.

"Soften our heart and mind and soul and take bitterness from our being," said the Very Rev. George Shalhoub of St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church.

In Richmond, Va., chapel doors of the First Baptist Church opened for prayers and solace as dawn broke on the national day of mourning Bush called.

"We will pray for our city, we will pray for our nation and we will pray for all the people whose lives have been lost," the Rev. Peter Jamer Flamming said.

Jessica Jones, 9, attends a vigil in Roseville, Ohio

Bush urged community groups and places of worships nationwide to hold noontime memorial services, ring bells and set aside time for candlelight vigils. He also encouraged employers to let their workers off to attend.

At a morning service in Connecticut, Gov. John Rowland spoke of a Roman Catholic priest he knew who died on United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles, which crashed into the trade center.

Rowland called the Rev. Francis Grogan a friend and mentor, who encouraged the governor to deepen his faith and service his community. If Grogan were still here, he would ask us to be "persuaded by our better natures," Rowland said.

"With the heart of our nation bursting with sadness, we must ask God for the courage to carry on," he said.

Members of the Islamic Center of Long Island, stunned by the many revenge assaults on Muslims, will hold the second of three services for victims of the attacks on the trade center and the Pentagon. They also will collect donations for the American Red Cross.

"We're hurting, too, and we're also Americans," said Arshad Majid, a member of the center. "There were Muslim lives lost in that building, as well. We're all human and we need to get together."

Lama Surya Das of the Dzogchen Center, has planned a Buddhist service in Cambridge, Mass. The program will include the loving kindness/compassion meditation prayer and the six syllable jewel-in-the-lotus mantra.

"It's in memory of the victims and the sufferings of all and a plea not to perpetuate even more violence," Das said. "It's a plea for restraint, moderation and reason and healing and praying for peace."

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