September 11, 2002 - the day the world held its breath, and prayed

By Jack Foley

OVER 1,000 people gathered in front of the US Embassy yesterday (Wednesday, September 11, 2002) to remember those who died following the terrorist attacks in America on September 11 last year.

In what proved a very moving ceremony, the American Ambassador, William Farish, said the gathering was to remember all the victims, particularly those from Britain, who perished at the hands of terrorism on that day and to thank Britain for its support during the past 12 months.

"We gather here today in solidarity, united in our determination to wipe terrorism from the face of the earth," he said. "We gather here today to say thank you again to all those who rushed to our aid in America's darkest hour, and to those who have stood firmly by our side ever since.

"Our thanks go first and foremost to the Government and people of the United Kingdom - America's truest friend."

As part of the ceremony, Home Secretary David Blunkett was presented with a tattered Union flag, rescued from Ground Zero, by Lieutenant Frank Dwyer, New York's highest-ranked uniformed police officer.

He said: "This flag is torn and tattered but it still may be flown as a symbol of the endurance and strength of the British people."

Conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, former American First Lady, Rosalind Carter, and Metropolitan Police chief, Sir John Stevens, were among the guests of the American Embassy at the ceremony, as were police liaison officers who supported the families of the 67 British victims.

An exhibition of tributes left by some of the 50,000 people who went there in the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks were also on display.

Elsewhere in the capital, the City came to a standstill as workers remembered lost friends, colleagues and family members, as the London Stock Exchange observed a two-minutes' silence at 1.46pm - commemorating the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

And at the Underwriting Room at Lloyd's, The Lutine Bell - famous around the world for marking disasters such as the sinking of a ship or the death of a monarch - rang once, before workers paid tribute to those that lost their lives with music, some words of affection and a minute's silence.

The choir sang two anthems - If You Love Me by Thomas Tallis and Set Me As A Seal Upon Thine Heart by William Walton - and chairman Saxton Riley gave a speech, the type of which is not often heard from the head of an insurance market.

At St Paul's Cathedral, 2,000 people, including many friends and relatives of the 67 British victims, gathered to pay their respect at a special service of remembrance.

Prime Minister Tony Blair joined Prince Charles and Prince Harry in the congregation as hundreds gathered outside to pay silent tribute to the thousands who lost their lives.

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, said the cathedral held an 'ocean of suffering', but urged mourners to 'love - and go on'.

Over 3,000 white rose petals - one for every victim of the four hijacks - were then released from the cathedral's dome, as a single cellist played.

In the evening, hundreds of people joined US Ambassador, Mr Farish, at an open service at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, while candles were lit at the American Church in London, and the names of all those who died were displayed.

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