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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
St Paul's falls silent as a nation remembers
Emotion on the streets

For a brief moment, St Paul's Cathedral was again the focus of the UK's memories of 11 September.
In stone silence they stood, each remembering all too clearly and painfully the heart-wrenching of events of 11 September 2001.  

It was a year ago to the minute that the first plane crashed, mid-air, into the north tower of New York's World Trade Center.

Policeman on guard outside St Paul's
Twelve months on, friends and relatives of the thousands who died in the terrorist attacks of that day gathered at St Paul's Cathedral in London to remember those who died in New York, Washington and rural Pennsylvania.

They were joined by a host of dignitaries, including the Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the US ambassador William Farish.

Representatives of the UK's emergency services and others were among the 2,000-strong congregation at this service of remembrance and commemoration.

Symbolically, and significantly for an attack that was claimed in the name of religion, they rubbed shoulders with those of different faiths, including representatives of the Muslim community in Britain.

The procession inside the cathedral
The 12-month gap cannot have wiped the pain felt by the bereaved, but this was a solemn and dignified affair.

As the silence settled in the cavernous hall of St Paul's, there was not a whisper of the suffering that so many had been through.

The only movement was that at the altar, where Lieutenant Frank Dwyer of the New York Police Department lit a single candle of remembrance.

As the clock moved forwards a minute, the low murmur of the cathedral organ began to stir the congregation from its deep introspection.

Petals fall
Thousands of petals fell
The setting of St Paul's for this service had been no coincidence. The American community in London has strong ties with the cathedral. At the back of the high altar is the American memorial chapel, where 28,000 Americans who lost their lives in World War Two while stationed in the UK are remembered.

Three days after the attack in the US last year, St Paul's hosted a service of remembrance.

Then 30,000 members of the public gathered in the historic streets outside to pay their respects and show solidarity with the American nation.

Numbers this time were smaller but still the service was relayed on loudspeakers to those assembled outside.

Even the choir at St Paul's had been touched by the tragedy, a fact recorded by the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres, who noted in his poignant address that a former choirboy had been among the dead in New York.

"That's just one door into solidarity with grief felt by so many," he said.

It was a powerful address and one that sought to build on the outpouring of compassion that followed 11 September, and recognised the suffering of those not just in America but across the world.

"Compassion, energised by this tragedy, should extend to all those whose lives are blighted by avoidable evils, by famine, Aids, poverty, violence of the kind that has claimed so many victims while the world was largely silent."

Prince Harry and William Farish
Prince Harry greets the US ambassador
And there was a studied reference to religious tolerance and inclusiveness.

"No competent religious authority in the world has endorsed this action. We are gathered together, representatives of all the great faiths in unity."

The congregation had already heard a message of hope and biblical lessons, ready by the Culture Minister Tessa Jowell and Mr Farish.

After the minute's silence there came a second poignant moment for reflection at 2.03pm - the minute when the second plane hit.

At that moment, the first of thousands of white rose petals - one each to represent the 3,025 lives lost on the day - began falling from the Whispering Gallery in the Great Dome of St Paul's.

Like snowflakes they fluttered, falling delicately on to the altar which had been draped with a faded Union flag recovered from the collapsed twin towers.

For a minute the petals fell, like tears from the heavens, for all those who had died and were injured on that day exactly one year before.  

St Paul's Cathedral
Watch the service held to remember Sept 11


In pictures



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