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President Bush Observes 2nd Anniversary of 9-11

President Bush marked the second anniversary of the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States in a quiet, solemn way. It was a day for remembrance and prayer.

The day dawned clear and bright much like that morning two years ago when hijacked planes slammed into buildings in New York, the side of the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

In a small, yellow church near the White House, the president joined in early morning prayers, bowed his head and listened to a homily about the importance of remembrance. Emerging into the sunshine, he repeated what had already become the theme of September 11, 2003.

"We remember lives lost. We remember the heroic deeds," he said. "We remember the compassion and the decency of our fellow citizens on that terrible day."

He returned to the White House to lead a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. Washington time the exact time when the first hijacked jet slammed into the World Trade Center north tower.

Several thousand White House employees, from top officials to gardeners to cooks in their white uniforms, joined him on the South Lawn. The quiet was broken only by the sound of airplanes approaching nearby Reagan National Airport, which was closed for weeks after the 2001 attacks.

Last year on September 11, the president went to the Pentagon, Pennsylvania and New York, where he attended ceremonies and addressed the nation. This time, aides say, he wanted the focus to be on the victims and their families.

There were no major speeches on this second anniversary of a tragedy, just a few consoling words, a quiet moment of respect and remembrance, and a trip to a military hospital in Washington D.C. to visit with soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The president met with them in private, and presented 11 men and women with medals awarded to those injured in the line of duty.

"I was able to pin the Purple Heart on a number of people upstairs," he said. "I was able to hug their parents and thank them. I'm just so grateful that our country has got people who are willing to serve in a cause greater than themself."

On Friday, the president travels to Fort Stewart, Georgia the home base of the army's third infantry division, which has played a prominent role in military operations in the war on terror.