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In the nation's capital, a show of resiliency, resolve

By Susan Milligan and Mary Leonard, Globe Staff, 9/12/2002

WASHINGTON - With tributes, tears, and a shared moment of silence, President Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and a crowd of thousands joined at the Pentagon yesterday morning to pay their solemn respects to the dead, and to vow that the quick restoration of the headquarters of US military should serve as a warning to the terrorists who made it a target last September.

''As long as terrorists and dictators plot against our lives and our liberty, they will be opposed by the United States Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marines,'' Bush declared, clenching his fist as five fighter planes flew overhead.

The president stood near the site where the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, killing 189 people.

''Though they died in tragedy, they did not die in vain,'' Bush said. ''Their loss has moved a nation to action in a cause to defend other innocent lives across the world.''

In his remarks, Rumsfeld said, ''The terrorists wanted Sept. 11 to be a day when innocents died. Instead, it was a day when heroes were born.''

Antiaircraft missiles were deployed around the nation's capital, military planes patrolled the skies, and Vice President Dick Cheney remained at a secret location. But despite the high alert of ''code orange'' issued by the government, Washingtonians set aside their anxieties to honor victims and mourn.

At 6:30 a.m., diplomats and schoolchildren, and people dressed in business suits and jogging shorts, began arriving at the Washington National Cathedral for a service of remembrance. By 8, the gothic church was filled, and a lone piper led a solemn procession of more than two dozen religious leaders and flags from 33 nations that lost citizens on Sept. 11.

''The world stands by you, trying to wipe the tears from your eyes,'' Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said in his homily.

Tutu was interrupted midsentence at 8:46 a.m. by the tolling of the bell marking the moment the first airplane hit the World Trade Center. The congregation fell silent, some dabbing their eyes, or bowing their heads. The tolling was repeated three times during the service to recall each attack.

Attorney General John Ashcroft sat in the front pew with Solicitor General Ted Olson, whose wife, Barbara, was a passenger on Flight 77. Ashcroft recited the names of 25 victims of Sept. 11. By the end of the 11 memorial and prayer services at the Cathedral yesterday, more than 3,000 names would be read.

Pam Musland of Jamestown, N.D., and Maria Gordon of Payne, Ohio, came to the Cathedral because they cannot forget. On Sept. 11, 2001, they were in Washington with a delegation of family farmers.

Gordon was in the Capitol, and Musland and her 11-year-old daughter were outside a House office building when employees starting pouring out. Some were crying, some were yelling into cellphones, many were hysterical. Everyone told them to run. Musland, who thought there was a sniper on the roof, grabbed her daughter and dived under a bush.

Then Musland looked in the sky and saw the smoke from the Pentagon. Her most vivid memory is spotting a pair of abandoned high heels on the sidewalk as she and her daughter raced to their hotel. She says she still bursts into tears when she hears the National Anthem, and she has been unable to watch the Sept. 11 commemorations on television. Her daughter would not make this trip because, she told her mother, she was too young to die.

But Musland and Gordon, wearing red, white, and blue ribbons on their shirts, wept and held hands at the Cathedral yesterday. They were back at the Capitol on Tuesday lobbying for farmers seeking drought aid. And they planned to go together to visit a new Sept. 11 photo exhibit at the Museum of American History on the Mall.

`We knew right away we had to come back,'' Gordon said. ''This is much-needed closure,'' Musland added. ''A year later, we're standing and we're strong. What better place to be than here?''

Pilots and flight attendants gathered at the Washington Monument to honor their colleagues who died in the attacks, while State Department employees held a 20-minute memorial tribute broadcast to US diplomatic posts around the world.

Labor union members showed a video honoring the courage of police officers, firefighters, and emergency workers, while Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill rung a refurbished Liberty Bell in honor of Sept. 11 victims. George Tenet, director of central intelligence, addressed employees through closed-circuit television.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers took a day off from legislating to remember the victims in speeches and a commemorative resolution. Both chambers paused at about noon for a moment of silence. Later in the day, members assembled on the Capitol steps to sing ''God Bless America,'' as they had done on Sept. 11.

''Nine-eleven will forever be our national shorthand for all that we have witnessed, all that we have experienced that day,'' said Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota. The Senate, like the House, was sparsely filled, since many lawmakers stayed in their home districts yesterday for Sept. 11 anniversary ceremonies.

''We can make this world less violent and more secure. We have the ability to eradicate poverty, disease, hunger, and hopelessness - the things that terrorists exploit to justify the unjustifiable. What we need is the will to make it happen,'' said Representative James McGovern, Democrat of Worcester, whose district lost several people in the attacks.

Senate minority leader Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, delivered a moving tribute to the ''valor and courage'' of those who died. But he warned, ''Until the hand of terrorism is crushed, the work of justice is not done.''

This story ran on page A22 of the Boston Globe on 9/12/2002.
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