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Congressional delegation tours Ground Zero

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Chilly, gray weather was the backdrop at the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks for a visit Monday by more than 100 members of Congress, invited by the mayor and governor to view the destruction first-hand.

"This is an eye-opening experience," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert. "I think all members of Congress should come here."

Hastert was one of 109 lawmakers who toured the site Monday, guided by Gov. George Pataki, who thanked them for the federal aid they approved shortly after the terrorist attacks September 11.

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Pataki said one of the most positive results of the attacks was the renewed sense of bipartisanship among U.S. politicians. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt said the people of New York were the inspiration.

"We gain courage and effort and a desire to work with you from what you have done," Gephardt said. "We are trying to be ... half as good as you have been in what we do."

Gephardt called the devastation "incomprehensible" and said "it is the face of evil."

"This will not stand," he vowed. "We will help New York and our whole country recover and be better than we've ever been. We will bring the perpetrators to justice and see to it that that is done."

Monday morning, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani delivered a passionate speech to the U.N. General Assembly, urging member nations to act together against terrorism. The assembly Monday began a week-long debate on measures to fight terrorism worldwide.

Giuliani was the first New York mayor in almost 50 years to address the assembly. He said good intentions alone are not enough to conquer evil, and that it is "action alone that counts."

"This is not a clash of civilizations," Giuliani said. "It's a clash between murderers and humanity. It's a matter of justice leading to peace."

The scene in the General Assembly hall was especially fitting for a man showered with international praise for his handling of the city since the attacks. The mayor has guided world leaders by the rubble heaps and been hailed as a hero in overseas press, while enjoying a sharp rise in popularity at home.

A memorial service was being held Monday in Central Park for victims of the attacks who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, a large brokerage and bond house that had been based in four of the top floors of One World Trade Center, the first tower hit in the terrorist strike. Cantor lost more than 700 of its 1,000 New York employees.

The company will close its U.S. equities business for one day Monday to allow employees to attend the service, limited to family and friends. The mayor also took part.

Cantor is now working out of a small office on Park Avenue in Midtown and in two sites in New Jersey.

The American Stock Exchange reopened its trading floor Monday morning for the first time since the attacks. The governor and local officials joined the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq for the event.

A special bell-ringing ceremony honored those lost in the attacks and those involved in the city's rebuilding effort.


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