Thousands gather for 'day of remembrance' around state

Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2001

SEATTLE (AP) -- Thousands of people gathered around the state Friday to bow their heads, wave flags, light candles and cry, joining a national day of remembrance for victims of the terror attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Many wept openly during a moment of silence just after noon.

''The cities of America can never be darkened,'' Gov. Gary Locke told a crowd of 15,000 in Seattle's downtown Westlake Plaza. ''We've been attacked by outside terrorists but we stand united within.''

Members of the crowd joined a gospel choir in spirited renditions of ''Amazing Grace'' and ''God Bless America.''

''I will not cower because Americans don't ever bow down to fear and evil,'' King County Executive Ron Sims said in a rousing address.

Similar gatherings were held around the state -- more than 7,000 turned out in Bellingham -- and the nation as Americans struggled to cope with Tuesday's blows.

''We're going to come out of this stronger, better than ever before,'' said Cody Arledge of the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters, which organized an Olympia rally attended by about 1,000 people.

Stores across the state have reported heavy sales of U.S. flags, and the Stars and Stripes fluttered at Friday's assemblies.

Anne Gauthier, 28, an executive assistant at Microsoft, was among about 75 people who lit candles Friday evening in Kerry Park on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill, in view of an American flag-topped Space Needle.

Gauthier said she came ''to show solidarity ... to say ''Yes, you have hurt us more deeply than you ever did before but you're not going to break us.' ''

Fort Lewis soldiers said the support they sense from the community is heartening.

''So many more Americans are behind this. It's personal in a way it hasn't been personal in a very long time,'' said Capt. Rob Thornton.

''It's more personal because it has to do with people and lives and problems in our home country,'' said 1st Lt. Joe Bashaw. ''I feel it's a lot more noble of a cause. It's a lot easier (to fight for) than oil interests.''

There are Washington citizens on the dark side of the American response as well -- an attempted arson at a Seattle mosque, an assault on a cabbie of Middle East descent in SeaTac, and threats and graffiti at Islamic houses of worship in several communities.

The attacks on innocent Arab-Americans were quickly countered by outpourings of flowers, cards and blessings from others calling for tolerance and reason.

Nasser, a member of the Dar Alarqam Mosque in suburban Lynnwood who asked that his last name not be published, said the shows of support are more ''what we really expected from American people. ... We are Americans, too.''

Federal investigators were working with local authorities on some of the incidents, and the Greater Seattle Council of Churches announced plans Friday to post ''peacekeepers'' at area mosques -- especially after hours.

Air traffic increased but was nowhere near usual levels.

Operations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were estimated around 50 percent of normal Friday, with the Federal Aviation Administration projecting 600 planes would take off and land by midnight, airport spokesman Bob Parker said.

The airport handles 1,200 to 1,300 flights on a typical day.

Spokane International Airport was running at about 70 percent of normal on Friday, with all airlines except United and Air Canada resuming operations, airport officials said.

Military bases around the state remained on heightened alert Friday. There was no immediate large-scale response to President Bush's decision to call up 50,000 reservists for homeland defense and recovery missions.

But McChord Air Force Base was sending a mortuary team of 15 reservists to the East Coast to help identify bodies and prepare the remains for return to families, Maj. Anna Sullivan said. They'll go to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced plans Friday to remove depictions of the World Trade Center towers from future versions of its popular Flight Simulator. The computer game allows players to fly planes over New York and other U.S. cities -- and into structures. The buildings don't blow up, but the program shows the plane has crashed.

No one has suggested terrorists used the game to prepare for Tuesday's attacks, but the realism of Flight Simulator has drawn attention. A new version is due out this fall.

College football games scheduled Saturday, including Colorado at Washington State and Washington at Miami, have been postponed.

Major League Baseball and the National Football League also have halted weekend games.

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