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America Under Attack: The Prayer Vigil at the U.S. Capitol

Aired September 12, 2001 - 19:33   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: John, we're going to interrupt you now. John Voss, we're going to interrupt you now because we do want to take our viewers to the Capitol where a prayer vigil, prayer service, has just gotten under way.

REV. LLOYD OGILVIE, SENATE CHAPLAIN: ... under the shadow of Your throne, still we dwell secure. Sufficient is Your love alone and our defense is sure. We come together to affirm our faith in God as the sovereign of this land and also the Lord of our lives. We come with heavy hearts, filled with a profound grief for our fellow Americans who have perished in the terrorist attack in New York City at the World Trade Center and here in Washington at the Pentagon.

With deep love and care, we reach out to he families of these who were the victims of these attacks and here we gather in this historic rotunda, as the Congress of the United States to affirm our oneness in patriotism and our belief in almighty God. Our help is the name of the Lord, who made heaven and who made earth. Let us pray.

Oh gracious father, loving God, You have promised to keep us in perfect peace when our minds are staid on You. Do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Keep our minds on You. Lift up our hearts. Invade our thinking with Your peace, Your shalom, the peace that passes all understanding. The peace that places a balm of healing on our raw nerves. The peace that makes us secure in Your everlasting arms. You alone can heal the immense grief following yesterday's tragic loss. You alone are the source of comfort for the immense pain, the loneliness and the anguish that the families of the victims of yesterday's terrorist attacks have suffered and will endure.

Oh, blessed God, be the unseen but powerful presence in their homes, the strength of their spouses, the eternal father to the fatherless children, a friend to those who friends have perished in violent death. Mend their broken hearts and fill them with courage. But now, Lord, thank you for the memory of those gallant police officers and firefighters who gave their lives to protect others. May we never forget their heroism and commitment.

As members and officers of the Senate and House of Representatives of Congress, we intercede for Your care for their families. Strengthen them and give them an assurance of Your presence. May they know that death came as no conqueror in the end. You met them as your eternal friend. Now in this memorial service, fill our hearts with hope and an assurance that death is not an ending, but a transition in eternal life. You are our Lord and our savior. Amen.

And now there will be the presentation of the colors, the Star Spangled Banner, the Pledge of Allegiance and the retiring of the colors.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you please join us in the saying of the national -- of the Pledge of Allegiance.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


OGILVIE: A great psalm of comfort and courage is the 46th psalm. It gives us personal hope and reassures our nation that God is in charge.

Hear God's word. God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear. Even though the Earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling, there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the most high. God is in the midst of her. She shall not be moved. God shall help her.

The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge. He makes war to cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two. He burns the chariot with fire. Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted on the earth. The God of Jacob is our refuge. The Lord is with us. The word of the Lord. Amen.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: What happened at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon yesterday is unreal. It is shocking. It is unbelievable. But it did happen.

We stand together tonight, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as citizens of the world. As Americans. As brothers and sisters with pain and with hurt. We are a circle of trust that cannot be broken. We are one people. We are one family. We are one nation.

Tonight we pray for those who are not here to pray for themselves. Let us all bow our heads in prayer.

Oh, God, we come to thee tonight with heavy hearts. We need You now. We call on You because we know that You are a powerful and mighty God. We need You in this hour. We need Your healing power. We ask tonight for You to look down on us. Please, God, look down on America. Look down on New York. Look down on Washington. We ask your blessing be upon the president of the United States, the leaders of the Congress and all of the members. God, if You will, bless all of our people. We ask, oh, God, in a very special way for You to be with the families and the loved ones of the victims at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And with the families of those who perished in Pennsylvania.

We pray tonight for the firefighters, the police officers, the doctors, the nurses and all of the emergency medical personnel. We pray, oh, Lord, for our entire nation in this time of tremendous grief and despair. We call on You tonight, dear Lord, because there is no one else for us to call on. We turn to You tonight, for there is no one else for us to turn to in our hour of need.

We ask that You continue to watch over America and shed they grace on thee. We need thy help, oh, God. Now. Right now. More than ever before. Hear our prayer. We stand in need of Your presence, oh, God. We are Your people. We are Your children. We are hurting. Our people are hurting. Our nation is hurting.

Help us, oh, God. See us through this storm. And hold us in the palm of Your powerful hands. Tonight, dear God, let there be peace in our world, peace in America and peace in our hearts and souls. Oh, God, we just want to do Your will. Give us the strength. Give us the courage to be faithful to Your calling. This is our quest. This is our plea. This is our hope. Oh, God, this is our prayer. Amen.

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: At 4:00 a.m. this morning, I was awakened by the stench of smoke from the fire still burning a mile away at the Pentagon. It made me feel sick and powerless, a feeling shared by many today.

Only by turning to God almighty will we have the wisdom and the strength we need in this great trial. Without God's spirit dwelling within us, we are powerless. It is He from whom we derive all strength to console, to endure, to overcome evil, and to maintain our humanity in the face of unfathomable inhumanity.

And how do we gain this power? Only by asking God for His help. By opening our hearts can we receive God's grace and His all powerful spirit. God spoke in Jeremiah, "Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know."

God can show us the way, if we will but ask. We cannot explain what's happened. We don't have that capacity. Then how can we console those who've suffered so much through the loss of friends and loved ones? Yes, our hearts go out to them, but it's not enough for them or for us.

The message again is to turn to God. He alone has the answers. In Isaiah, God assured us: "Fear not, I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Tonight, let us open our hearts so that almighty God may dwell within us, so that our actions are His actions, and let us believe in Him so that our dismay is replaced by His strength. God loves us and is willing to help us. It is but for us to ask. May God bless us all.


REV. DANIEL COUGHLIN, HOUSE CHAPLAIN: A reading from the Book of Revelations.

"I saw a new heaven, and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold. God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be His people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.'

"The one who sat on the throne said, 'Behold. I make all things new. I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty, I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water. The victor will inherit these gifts and I will be their God and they will be my people.'"

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: Good evening. I'm so glad we could be together tonight. Our Congressional family, the members of Congress, their spouses. That we could come together and really ask God's blessing on us now at this time of great trouble and travail in our country. And how like us, as the American people, to come together and put aside our differences and really turn to a higher power to bless us and bless all who are in need.

What happened yesterday was not only an attack against America, it was a crime against democracy. It was a crime against decency. It was a crime against humanity, and we need God in our lives, and we need to ask God's blessing. We need to open up our hearts now to all who are in need. Let's tonight ask for God's blessings on all who are suffering unutterable grief and pain.

Dear God, please bless the many who lost their lives. Dear God, bring Your healing powers to the thousands who are injured and suffering and bring fortitude to the families of all of the victims. Dear God, bring down your guardian angels right this minute to the rescue workers and the medical personnels who are working around the clock to try to save lives and to try those who are finding lives. Dear God, we need Your help.

Our hearts and prayers also go out to members of our own Senate family, who are feeling this in a very deep and personal way. Our two colleagues from New York who are in the city this evening, as well as to our senators from Connecticut and New Jersey and what they feel. To the senators from Virginia, and to my own colleague from Maryland, we lost people at the Pentagon.

Our minds are seared today with images we can still scarcely comprehend. For me, one of the most terrible of those images was the sight of thick smoke ready over Arlington Cemetery. I couldn't believe it. The graves in that hollow ground remind us that Americans have faced great evil before. And you know what? We've defeated it. We are united in our resolve to do it again.

The question, I think, all of us is facing is, why are good, innocent people allowed to suffer? This question is as old as humanity. It was the cry of Job. And it's the question that haunts us today.

I don't know the answer, but I want to share with you a passage from the book of Job. Job says this: "The thing which I feared greatly has come upon me. That which I was afraid has come to me." Today, what we have feared has come to our land. But again, like Job, we know that the grace of God can lead us to do the right thing. We ask God for the courage and the wisdom to respond rightly.

I believe that God was with the victims of yesterday's attack. I believe God was with them in their hour of travail, fear and death. I believe He is here with all of those who grieve, and all of those who suffer with the so many good and innocent people. And I believe He will be with us in our search for answers and justice. That's my prayer this evening.

We're not going to sacrifice our ideals in pursuit of the monsters who attacked us. We're not going to compromise our principles for which so many Americans fought and died, but we will root out those who committed this atrocity. We will pursue justice. And with God's grace, we're going to move forward. We're going to be a stronger nation and a better people than before.

So let's again ask for God's mercy. Let's ask for God's forgiveness upon those who did this terrible deed and that they might repent and turn to a different life. And let us then try to find what is the good and righteous thing to do.

God bless you, and God bless America.

WOODRUFF: As we watch this prayer vigil at the United States Capitol for members of Congress and their spouses, I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. I'm going to say good night for now, but in just a moment, Wolf Blitzer, Greta Van Susteren will be with us as our coverage continues of the Attack on America.



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