Bahai News - Terror In America: Prayers, tears, silence
Terror In America: Prayers, tears, silence: a day of mourning
and solidarity that stretched from Belfast to Beirut: Day Of Remembrance:
Anger mixes with grief on a day of global remembrance
A SOMBRE President George Bush and four former presidents
yesterday led the American nation in a day of remembrance for the
thousands who lost their lives in the terror attacks on New York and
Mr Bush, joined by his father George Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy
Carter and Gerald Ford, took part in a prayer service at Washington's
National Cathedral. But Mr Bush injected an angry tone into the
sorrow of the memorial.
"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,"
said Mr Bush, who wore a pale-blue tie with his dark suit.
"We come today before God to pray for the missing and the dead and
for those who love them." But he added: "This nation is peaceful, but
fierce when stirred to anger."
An e-mail circulating on the internet urged the public to stop
whatever it is they would be doing today at 7pm and light a candle to
show the world Americans are strong and united against terrorism.
Fliers were being handed out in New York and in other cities,
encouraging people to turn out for vigils. As it grew dark in America
on the Moslem and Jewish day of prayer, people of all faiths gathered
for the candlelight vigils, from San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, where
more than 3,000 were due to gather for an inter-faith service,
to New York's main Catholic cathedral, St Patrick's.
Catholic priests and other clergy of all faiths have counselled
the bereaved at New York's Armory where the main centre for the
relatives has been established.
Joe Zwilling, a spokesman for St Patrick's, said: "A number of
priests have also been to police and fire stations to minister to
these people whose work is so difficult emotionally."
"We even have a priest, Father Murray, who has been riding his
bicycle around to the hospitals," he added.
But at some vigils, where people held up signs saying "war is not
the answer", there was a robust response. A group of students told
one such objector: "If you don't want to stand behind our president,
get the fuck out of the country."
Billy Graham, the evangelist, who is suffering from Parkinson's
disease, made a rare public appearance at the National Cathedral
"Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel polt and to
those who carried it out, the spirit of this nation will not be
defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes," he said.
Americans must chose whether to implode and disentigrate as
America or become stronger and rebuild, he said.
"All people of faith want to say to this nation and to the world
that love is stronger than hate," said the Rev Jane Holmes Dixon, the
Episcopal bishop of Washington. "And love lived out in justice will
in the end prevail."
She urged mourners to use the cathedral as a "container for your
Bush was joined by former presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and
Ford, along with members of Congress and cabinet members. Before the
service started and between readings, musicians performed "God Bless
America" and sang "America the Beautiful." A Muslim cleric was among
the clergy who spoke.
Arab-Americans and Muslims have been targets of revenge assaults around
the country since Tuesday's destruction. In Richmond, Virginia, chapel
doors of the First Baptist Church opened for prayers and solace as dawn
broke on the national day of remembrance, called by Bush to memorialize
the victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks.
"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.
At a morning service in Connecticut, Governor 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 World Trade centre.
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.
In proclaiming Friday a national day of prayer and remembrance, Mr
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.
"All our hearts have been seared by the sudden and senseless
taking of innocent lives," Mr Bush said. "We pray for healing and for
the strength to serve and encourage one another in hope and faith."
In Dallas, people will hold hands and sing at the Baha'i Centre
and recite the prayer that a Baha'i leader wrote after he visited the
United States in 1912. It asks God to "confirm this revered nation"
and "make it precious and near to thee".
"All the members who are moved to say prayers can stand and say
prayers," said Kambiz Rafraf, a Baha'i spokesman. The religion
focuses on spiritual growth and solving society's ills.
Members of the Islamic Centre 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 World Trade Centre 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 centre. "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 Centre, plans a Buddhist service in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. 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."
©Copyright 2001, Independent - London
Page last updated/revised 091601
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