Tags: Bush | Leads | Nation | Prayer | Recovery

Bush Leads Nation in Prayer, Recovery

Friday, 14 September 2001 12:00 AM

"America today is on bended knee in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, for the workers who work here, for the families who mourn," said Bush, who walked through the wreckage that morning rains left treacherously slick. "This nation stands with the good people of New York City and New Jersey and Connecticut as we mourn the loss of thousands of our citizens."

Bush addressed a crowd of workers with a bullhorn, which didn't reach some listeners.

"I can't hear you," one worker shouted.

"I can hear you," Bush answered, prompting applause that forced him to pause at points during the rest of his remarks. "I can hear you, and the rest of the world hears you, and the people - and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

Bush said that "the nation sends its love and compassion to everybody who's here. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for making the nation proud."

The ovation sounding through the shattered concrete and steel canyons of lower Manhattan capped a day that began for Bush amid muted echoes in the National Cathedral in Washington, where he led a prayer service.

The service in Washington ended with the worshippers - who included four of the five living former presidents, congressional leaders, uniformed service members and rescue workers - singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," a martial hymn written during the American Civil War.

After the battle hymn, a color guard of uniformed service members left the sanctuary to the slow tolling of a single bell, followed by the president and first lady.

It was a day of historic, fast-moving developments intended to prepare the nation physically and emotionally for what Bush Thursday called "the first war of the 21st century," while offering comfort and courage to its citizens.

The Senate Friday approved a resolution authorizing "the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States." The House was expected to pass the resolution later in the day.

Both houses approved $40 billion to respond to Tuesday's attacks, half for rescue and rebuilding efforts in New York and at the Pentagon, and half for the pursuit and destruction of the hijackers, their networks and their sponsors.

The president also signed an order to call up to 50,000 reservists to active duty, the first such activation since the Gulf War mobilization led by his father, then-President George H.W. Bush, in 1991.

Osama bin Laden was named Thursday by Secretary of State Colin Powell as a prime suspect, but a senior White House official cautioned that the investigation is not finished and that other organizations might have played a role. Friday, the FBI released a list of the 19 people believed to have hijacked the four airliners.

At the service, Bush steeled the nation by invoking the courage of those who had died: "We have seen the images of fire and ashes and bent steel. Now come the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning to read. They are the names of men and women who began their day at a desk or in an airport busy with life.

"They are the names of people who faced death and in their last moments called home to say, 'Be brave' and 'I love you,'" Bush said of the some 5,000 missing in the towers' ruins.

"We will read all these names, we will linger over them and learn their stories, and many Americans will weep," he said.

"To the children and parents and spouses and families and friends of the lost, we offer the deepest sympathy of the nation. And I assure you, you are not alone," Bush continued. He said that "our national character" has been shown as rescuers work past exhaustion and in "eloquent acts of sacrifice," referring to people helping each other escape the smoky burning buildings.

"We are here in the middle hour of our grief," Bush said during the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance Service.

Then he looked to the battle ahead.

"This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others," he said. "It will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing."

When the president returned to his seat next to first lady Laura Bush, his father reached over and touched his hand in a display of congratulation and comfort.

The Rev. Billy Graham, who has long been called on to heal the nation's pain in times of crisis, gave the sermon: "Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot and to those who carried it out that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday those responsible will be brought to justice, as Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God." A visible reminder of how close to home the attacks were felt was the presence of Solicitor General Theodore Olson, whose wife, Barbara, was among those killed in the plane that hit the Pentagon.

Bush, who on Wednesday visited the Pentagon, went to New York City to see first-hand the devastation that has moved the country from normalcy to a war footing in the space of 72 hours. Hundreds of survivors and family members of those who disappeared in the rubble roamed the area with photos and desperate hopes that their loved ones had been lost in a literal sense, at a hospital or elsewhere, rather than lost forever in the rubble.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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America today is on bended knee in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, for the workers who work here, for the families who mourn, said Bush, who walked through the wreckage that morning rains left treacherously slick. This nation stands with the good people...
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Friday, 14 September 2001 12:00 AM
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