- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2003

President Bush yesterday set a somber and subdued tone as ceremonies throughout the area marked the second anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“Today, our nation remembers — we remember a sad and terrible day, September the 11th, 2001. We remember lives lost. We remember the heroic deeds. We remember the compassion and the decency of our fellow citizens on that terrible day,” the president said after attending an early morning church service.

“Also today is a day of prayer. We pray for the husbands and wives and moms and dads and sons and daughters and loved ones of those who still grieve and hurt. We pray for strength and wisdom,” he said.

The president and first lady Laura Bush, along with Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, presided over a South Lawn ceremony at 8:46 a.m., the exact minute the first of two hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center.

Across the Potomac River, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld presided over a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon shining in the sunlight behind him.

“In our mind’s eye, we can see the arsenal of democracy that it represents,” Mr. Rumsfeld said of the building where 184 persons died when a third hijacked plane was crashed by al Qaeda terrorists. “The men and women who died there that day were part of that arsenal, defending democracy as surely as any patriot on the front line.”

At the Pentagon, 20,000 military and civilian workers were silent at 9:37 a.m. to mark the moment a hijacked plane crashed into the building.

For the last two years, we’ve been a nation at war,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers. “Terrorists are trying to defeat what we Americans stand for — for peace, freedom, tolerance and respect for human life. So we’ve undertaken an enormous effort to prevent them from spreading their creed of bloodshed, of hatred, of intolerance.”

At the Justice Department, Solicitor General Ted Olson, whose wife, Barbara, died in the attack, told employees that an unrelenting fight against terrorism is the best way to honor the memory of those who died.

“Their suffering and deaths must fuel our dedication to stamp out this cancer,” Mr. Olson said.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said at the same ceremony that the United States was making “quiet, steady progress in the war against terror.”

In rural Pennsylvania, church bells began tolling solemnly shortly after 10 a.m. to mark the moment Flight 93 crashed. The plane was believed to be headed to the nation’s capital; it went down as the passengers fought back against the hijackers.

Mr. Bush often quotes the words of Todd Beamer, a passenger who led the revolt against the terrorists by saying: “Let’s roll.”

Loved ones of the 44 victims planted sugar maples in a field near Shanksville where the plane crashed. Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton attended the ceremony.

On Capitol Hill, senators and congressmen gathered outside to sing “God Bless America.”

“It has been two years, and our hearts still ache,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

Said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee: “We must renew our commitment to the one good thing coming out of September 11, America coming together as one.”

The Congress members also paid special tribute to the passengers of Flight 93, which many lawmakers believe was headed toward the Capitol.

“They showed their country and their God that there are heroes still walking among us,” said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican. Said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert: “There were some braves souls that made a difference.”

The House passed legislation to set up a memorial here honoring the victims of terrorist attacks at home and abroad. The House also voted to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to emergency responders killed in the attacks.

Later in the day, Mr. Bush visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center and met privately with about 30 soldiers being treated for wounds suffered in Iraq. There, he awarded 11 Purple Hearts.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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