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Europe

A Sunny Day Three Months Ago

Worldwide, memorial services marked the three-month anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

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Recovery and demolition work continues at "Ground Zero".

It is a day that has become ingrained in people’s minds: September 11. A bright sunny morning in New York which, shortly before 9 o’clock, became the focus of the terrorist attacks that would change the world.

Three months later, US President George W. Bush asked the world to offer remembrance services for the victims of New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. He called on countries to play their national anthems or appropriate music today at the exact moment the first hijacked plane struck the World Trade Center in New York - 8:46 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Bush himself led a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday to remember the attacks. At 8:46 a.m. EST, the US Marine Band played the National Anthem. US soldiers raised the flags of the more than 80 countries that lost citizens in the attacks. Families of some of the 3,300 victims took part in the event, as did firefighters and police.

"In time, perhaps, we will mark the memory of September the 11th in stone and metal -- something we can show children as yet unborn to help them understand what happened on this minute and on this day," Bush said at the ceremony.

"But for those of us who lived through these events, the only marker we'll ever need is the tick of a clock at the 46th minute of the eighth hour of the 11th day."

Similar ceremonies were held at the Pentagon, "Ground Zero" where the World Trade Center once stood in New York, and a site in rural Pennsylvania. Further services were held across the United States. Even the combined crews of the International Space Station and the space shuttle Endeavour have commemorated the victims of September 11 with a ceremony.

The battle against terrorism is not to be forgotten

Greg Lagana, a White House official with the Coalition Information Center (CIC), said the events were being held to remind people that the fight against terrorism is ongoing. The CIC was set up recently to help better coordinate information about the war on terrorism.

"It's easy for a lot of people to think that once the Taliban and al Qaeda are out of power, that the struggle against terrorism is over," Lagana said. President Bush felt it is important for people to remember that this is a long-term struggle, he added. "The reason he wants countries to play their national anthems is because he wants a vocal response to the September 11 attack on mankind."

Europe commiserates with the US

In solidarity with the United States, the European Union Presidency held a memorial service in Brussels. Other EU institutions, such as the EU Parliament, Council and Commission, also took part.

At 14:46, the exact local European time of the event, a military band played the US anthem followed by a minute of silence.

Britain had a service at 10 Downing Street, the official residence of Prime Minister Tony Blair. US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is traveling in the region, also attended. "The purpose of the event is to underline our determination that we must never forget what happened," said a spokesman for Blair.

An additional event was organized by London‘s financial community at St Paul's Cathedral. Many who died in the World Trade Center worked in the London City.

Ballerina performance for the victims

Worldwide, events were held in more than 70 countries. "In some countries, the government is doing something fairly large and elaborate, and in other countries they are doing things that are simple and dignified," CIC’s Greg Lagana said.

The Czech Republic held its ceremony at the Thank-You America Monument, which commemorates the American liberation of Pilsen in World War Two.

In Tibilisi, Georgia, Bolshoi prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili performed in a December 11 commemorative event. In Riga, Latvia, the prime minister and his cabinet broke from their regularly scheduled cabinet meeting to remember the December 11 event at the Freedom Monument in the center of the city.

An oak tree in remembrance

In Australia, US Charge d'Affaires Michael P. Owens and the Australian Minister for Trade Mark Vaile planted a Pin Oak with a plaque reading "September 11, 2001 - We Will Always Remember" on the grounds of the official residence of the US Ambassador in Canberra.

"Australia, the United States and all nations that value human decency have shown since September 11 that together they can overcome this tragedy and defend their shared way of life," Owens said.

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