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Bush Attends Memorial Service at Washington's National Cathedral - 2001-09-14

This is a national day of prayer and remembrance in the United States to honor the people killed in Tuesday's terrorist attacks. President Bush and national leaders gathered for a memorial service at Washington's National Cathedral.

The president and Mrs. Bush arrived at the cathedral under rainy skies. They were joined at the service by his father, former President George Bush, along with former presidents Ford, Carter, and Clinton as well as former Vice President Al Gore who President Bush defeated in last year's election.

It was a day to put politics aside in Washington in honor of what the president called "the memory of the thousands of victims of the brutal attacks" and to give comfort to those who lost loved ones. Mr. Bush said, "Our purpose as a nation is firm, yet our wounds as a people are recent and unhealed and lead us to pray."

"Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history, but our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil. War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder," said Mr. Bush. "This nation is peaceful but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing."

The president says America's quiet anger must not be taken out on Arab-Americans, that the nation must stand united against terrorism.

A Protestant clergyman, the Reverend Billy Graham, thanked the president for calling this national day of remembrance to bring Americans together in prayer. "We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be," he said. "The Bible says that he is the God of all comfort who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning."

The nondenominational service heard prayers from many religions. Muslim cleric Muzammil Siddiqi read from the Koran, telling those who plot evil that they will suffer a terrible penalty from God. "If any do seek for glory and power, to God belongs all glory and power," he said. "To Him mounts-up all works of purity. He exalts all righteous deeds. But those who lay the plots of evil, for them is the penalty terrible. And the plotting of such shall not abide."

The Reverend Graham said Americans face a choice: to allow this attack to divide them or use it to build what he called a "spiritual revival." "Yes, our nation has been attacked," he continued. "Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But 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 this struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation."

President Bush said the nation's character is shown in rescuers working past exhaustion, in long lines of blood donors, and in thousands of citizens offering to help in any way possible.

In the course of the service, the rain stopped and sunlight burst through the cathedral's stained glass windows as soprano Denyce Graves sang America the Beautiful.