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Americans pray, cry and remember together

(CNN) -- An outpouring of prayers, tears, songs and flag-waving patriotism spread from coast to coast Friday on the day President Bush designated as a national day of prayer and remembrance for the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Several thousand people descended on New York City's Union Square Park at sunset Friday for a chilly vigil in remembrance of the thousands who are presumed to have died in Tuesday's terror attack on the World Trade Center.

Many held candles, warming their fingers above the flames after an afternoon of rain had cooled the city to the 50s.

By evening, though, the sky was an expanse of deep blue, interrupted only by tufts of white clouds and the occasional track of fighter jets overhead.

Children tacked signs to a fence. One said, "Get Well, America." Another: "I Love You, America." And a third: "I'm sorry, America."

A Web site to Light a Memorial Candle  

Some people are reaching out across the Internet to light electronic candles of remembrance. By Friday night, there were more than 161,000 candles posted , each alongside a personal message.

In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, people gathered at the memorial for the terrorist bombing that ripped through their city six years ago. On Friday they remembered the victims of this week's attacks and sang, "God Bless America."

In Montgomery, Alabama, several thousand people gathered to pray and sing on the steps of the Capitol.

Many more people across the nation headed to churches, synagogues and mosques to seek comfort for themselves and to mourn for the victims.

Earlier, at a service in Washington's National Cathedral, President Bush said, "So many have suffered so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow."

But the president's address to a church filled with political, military and spispiritualaders also had a militant tone, as he called on Americans to "rid the world of evil" and promised that the United States would strike back "at an hour of our choosing."

In nearby Virginia, Muslims gathered at a mosque where prayers were mixed with efforts to raise money for the victims. Charity is a tenet of the Islamic faith.

Leaders also took time to explain that the attacks that took place in New York and at the Pentagon in Washington did not reflect the teachings of Islam.

"Once a Muslim commits a murder against innocent life, he is outside the bonds of Islam -- he cannot be considered a Muslim," said community leader Dr. Jamal Barzinji.

Other groups across the country, including radio stations, fire stations and elementary schoolchildren, also raised thousands of dollars to aid the victims.

Moments of silence were also held from Canada, down through the United States and even across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.

In South Korea, a moment of silence was observed. And in New Delhi, India, a Hindu ritual was performed near the Parliament House in memory of those who died in the attacks.

Some 200,000 Germans gathered at the Brandenburg Gate in a show of sympathy, some holding small American flags, others holding little figurines of doves -- the symbol of peace.

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