Tattered Union flag presented to America's 'truest friend'

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The Independent Online

The United States ambassador to Britain thanked America's "truest friend" for its support over the past year during a memorial service yesterday at the US embassy in Grosvenor Square.

The United States ambassador to Britain thanked America's "truest friend" for its support over the past year during a memorial service yesterday at the US embassy in Grosvenor Square.

William Farish said: "We gather here this morning to remember more than 3,000 people, citizens of more than 80 countries who were lost to us one year ago. We gather here today in solidarity, united in our determination to wipe out terrorism from the face of the Earth. We gather here to say thank you to all those who rushed to our aid in America's darkest hour and to all those who have stood firmly by our side ever since. Our thanks go to the Government and people of the United Kingdom – America's truest friend ... It will be a long time as well until our war against terror is over."

Earlier Frank Dwyer, a New York police lieutenant, handed over a torn and dusty Union flag discovered among the rubble of ground zero to the Home Secretary, David Blunkett. "It is a symbol of endurance and the strength of the British people and the pain and agony they went through that consecrated day," said Lt Dwyer. "This flag belongs in this land."

Among the hundreds who gathered for the memorial service at the embassy in central London were the former first lady Rosslyn Carter; John Reid, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; the Conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith; and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens. But unlike the later ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral, there was little pomp or grandeur. The mood was one of personal sadness and reflection. People talked among themselves quietly, a few cried, and others stood alone, lost in thought. Speeches were made on a stage in the embassy garden.

Amanda Worrell, 21, and her 19-year-old friend Aimee Hildebrand, both exchange students from Maryland, clutched American flags and wept as the South Wales Male Choir sang "Christe Morte". Ms Worrell's father, Tim, was a firefighter in Washington. "He lost friends in New York, he lost a lot of his colleagues," she said. "He was a very strong figure, but he was crushed by what had happened. I was very apprehensive about September 11, being an American. And I think we shall all be very nervous if another war starts."

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