All over the world, the mourning goes on

American Prayers
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The Independent US

America went to church yesterday – to pray for the victims of last week's attacks and to reflect on the increasingly tense days ahead as the drums of war and retribution start to sound around the country.

America went to church yesterday ­ to pray for the victims of last week's attacks and to reflect on the increasingly tense days ahead as the drums of war and retribution start to sound around the country.

At services across America, ministers asked their congregations to think on what had happened and to offer their thoughts and prayers to those struggling to deal with the loss of loved ones.

"A wind has come out of New York and Washington this week and has knocked us off our feet," said Rick White, the pastor of the People's Church in Franklin, Tennessee. "Life as we know it has been changed, perhaps for ever." At St Andrew's Episcopal Church in New Orleans, the Rev Susan Gaumer told her congregation that the attacks were carried out by fanatics who had perverted Islam. But, she added: "We too, Christians and Jews, have our fanatics and we have had for centuries."

One of the most moving services was held by ministers from the Parish of Trinity Church, Wall Street. The church is currently littered with broken glass and ash. "We will not allow Tuesday's attack to stop our congregation from gathering for Sunday worship," said the church's website.

At another New York church, the Church of St Paul the Apostle, the Rev Charles Kullman, said: "God's love and our hatred cannot co-exist in our hearts. Jesus came to save all sinners, even terrorists."

Deborah Welsh, a flight attendant on hijacked United Airlines flight 93, which crashed in rural Pennsylvania, used to be a member of the choir at the Roman Catholic church. Choristers pinned pictures of her to their clothing yesterday and, after celebrating communion sang "America the Beautiful".

The services that took place yesterday follow funerals and memorials that were held on Saturday. Among those buried were senior members of the New York City Fire Department, which has lost up to 300 members. Fire Department Chief Peter Ganci, the First Deputy Fire Commissioner, William Feehan, and Father Mychal Judge, the department's chaplain, were laid to rest in services attended by hundreds of firefighters and police officers. Normally, thousands of colleagues in uniforms and white gloves attend such services but the reduced numbers were evidence of the continuing efforts to search the rubble where the World Trade Centre used to be.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said: "Today was a very solemn and difficult day in New York City, with the three funerals we had for Bill Feehan, for Pete Ganci and for Father Judge. Unfortunately, it is an indication of what we are probably going to face in the future. They are heroes. They are like the heroes we had at Pearl Harbor. Each one of them were trying to save lives."

Mr Ganci,54, was a 33-year veteran of the department. His white chief's helmet lay on his casket during the service in Farmingdale, on Long Island. He survived the first tower's collapse and ordered the fire command post north. He then ran south to make sure everyone was evacuated and was killed when the second tower came down. Father Mychal Judge, 68, was killed by falling debris while administering last rites to a dying firefighter. At the Church of St Francis of Asissi in midtown Manhattan, Father Michael Duffy said Fr Judge loved to be amongthe action. "He loved his fire department and all the men in it," he said. "And that's the way it was when he died on Tuesday."

Senator Hillary Clinton recalled that she and former president Bill Clinton invited Fr Judge to a White House prayer breakfast after hearing about the "charismatic Franciscan". She added: "He lit up the White House as he lit up every place where he saw himself. Father, you gave us so many gifts when you were alive: gifts of laughter and love."

The funeral for Mr Feehan, 71, took place on Saturday morning at a church in Queens. He had spent nearly 40 years with the department. His son, William, said: "If ever there was a man more in love with what he did, I've not met him. Calm, in control, dignified and they knew they could get through. They could do it. They could save the extra person, work a little bit harder, push a little bit further."

In Arlington, Virginia, a memorial service was held for the former federal prosecutor and conservative TV commentator Barbara Olson. She was on American Airlines flight 77 when it was flown into the Pentagon and telephoned her husband, the US solicitor-general Ted Olson, as the hijackers took control. "She wasn't crying, she didn't even sound frightened. She told me her plane was hijacked and that they didn't know she was making a phone call," her husband said.

At the memorial service, Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas said of Mrs Olson: "There was something Church-illian about her and about her attitude. Ignoring all torpedoes ... and charging full speed ahead, but doing so with grace and charm."