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Americans pause to pray and reflect

Leavitt, Utahns gather for ceremony at Capitol

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With somber prayers and patriotic hymns, the nation began its day of remembrance Friday led by President Bush and four former presidents who worshipped together at the National Cathedral in Washington.

"All people of faith want to say to this nation and to the world that love is stronger than hate," said the Rt. 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 grief."

Bush was joined by former Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford, along with members of Congress and cabinet members. Billy Graham also attended, a rare public appearance for the ailing evangelist.

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, Va., 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.

In Utah, flags flew from car antennae and freeway overpasses, and area churches planned prayer services. Gov. Mike Leavitt declared a statewide day of reflection and remembrance, with public ceremonies in the Capitol Rotunda and at other are churches. An electronic sign on the Barber Brothers car dealership in Bountiful flashed with the message "God Bless America. Freedom Will Prevail."

Colonial Flag in Salt Lake City reported that by Thursday afternoon it had sold just short of one million small stick flags, "plus tens of thousands of other flags, flagpoles, bunting, decals and hardware were sold. Anything that had red, white and blue was sold, until finally at 4 p.m. we had completely sold out of everything," according to owner David K. Swenson.

Sitting across from Temple Square, Marine veteran Merhle A. Martin, 59, wore red, white and blue clothes he had worked for Thursday, dusting and cleaning windows at the Bishops' Storehouse at Welfare Square. "I wanted a jacket with a U.S. flag, but couldn't find one," said Martin, a Texan who is living temporarily at a homeless shelter while he waits for surgery at the V.A. Hospital. He settled instead for a red parka, a white shirt and bluejeans.

Friday had been declared "U.S. Pride Day" according to e-mail messages traveling nationwide on the Internet, and some businesses, including Zions Bank, had requested that its employes wear red, white and blue.

Sartorially at least, the day seemed to be a subtle success. There appeared to be more red shirts than usual downtown Friday morning, and some men were sporting flag ties. In some cases it was hard to tell if outfits were purposefully patriotic or not.

"It's the best I could do," said Nate Nelson, who wore a navy blue T-shirt with small white letters and a tiny red Nike symbol. He wore it, though, "to absolutely show support" for America, he said.

Another Internet message urges Americans to show resolve and sympathy Friday night at 7 p.m. "Step out your door, stop your car, or step out of your establishment and light a candle. We will show the world that Americans are strong and united together against terrorism."

In proclaiming Friday a national day of prayer and remembrance, 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," Bush said. "We pray for healing and for the strength to serve and encourage one another in hope and faith."

In Dallas, people will be asked to hold hands and sing at the Baha'i Center 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, with roots in Iran, focuses on spiritual growth and solving society's ills.

Members of the Islamic Center on Long Island, stunned by the many revenge assaults on Muslim-Americans since Tuesday, will hold the second of three services for victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center 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 center. "There were Muslim lives lost in that building, as well. We're all human and we need to get together."

While Bush prays at the National Cathedral in Washington on Friday, Lama Surya Das of the Dzogchen Center, plans a Buddhist service in Cambridge, Mass. 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."


Contributing: Elaine Jarvik, Deseret News staff writer