9/11 anniversary: How the loss was felt worldwide
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In Paris, they unfurled a giant American flag and framed the Eiffel Tower with Twin Towers made out of scaffolding.
In Manila, there were roses, balloons and prayers. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak sent a letter to President Obama conveying his ‘deepest condolences’ and calling the terrorist attacks 10 years ago ‘unpardonable.’ And in New Zealand, where the time zones made that country among the first in the world to mark the anniversary, players participating in the Rugby World Cup tournament paused before game time to remember the dead.
The United States was not alone in its day of remembrance on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Media reports were brimming with reminders that many around the globe mourned with us:
--Firefighters in Sydney, Australia, climbed the stairs to the top of the city’s tallest building -- to symbolize the first responders who rushed to help victims -- and hundreds more gathered at a ceremony to remember those who were lost. In Madrid, a crowd planted trees and offered up a moment of silence.
--In London, dignitaries recalled those countrymen who died in the attacks. ‘Although that dreadful act of violence was meant to divide us, it has actually drawn us together, one person to another, one community to another,’ Prince Charles was quoted as saying.
--About 500 soldiers gathered at Bagram Air Field near the Afghan capital, Kabul, for a ceremony in front of a piece of World Trade Center rubble. It was briefly interrupted by a reminder of war -- when a fighter jet buzzed closely overhead.
--At NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, a French soldier played taps and the flags of 28 alliance states were lowered to half-staff as a tribute to the victims. About 130,000 NATO troops -- two-thirds of them Americans -- now serve in Afghanistan. More than 2,700 service members have died in that war.
--And at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI offered a prayer in memory of the victims and was quoted in the media as saying, ‘I invite the leaders of nations and men of goodwill to reject violence always as a solution to problems, to resist the temptation to hate and to work within society based on the principles of solidarity, justice and peace.’
In Paris, the 82-foot-tall replicas of the Twin Towers were adorned with the names of 9/11 victims as well as the words, ‘The French Will Never Forget,’ in English and in French. A memorial service with the American ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, and the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, was held to coincide in real time with the attacks 10 years ago.
Due to heavy rain, a smaller than expected crowd of a few hundred gathered for the ceremony, waving American and French flags. For many of the French citizens present, 9/11 was a tragedy that struck a nation and culture to which they felt closely attached. Many said they could imagine Paris being just as easily targeted by terrorists, and that 10 years ago they felt as though their own people were under attack.
‘We experienced 9/11 too, with them. We watched the images at the same time,’ said 17-year-old Megan Coipel, who said she brought a large American flag to the event as a show of support. ‘It could
happen here. We’re not safe from anything,’ added her friend, Maxime Desprez, 16.
Older generations said they felt forever indebted to the United States because of its role in liberating France from Nazi occupation. ‘Since World War II I know how grateful we must be to the Americans,’ said Eliane Brouilhit, 68. ‘I was shattered on 9/11. I was pulled down to pieces. I shall never forget.’
-- Devorah Lauter in Paris and Rene Lynch in Los Angeles
The Associated Press contributed to this report.