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Outpouring of grief and sympathy sweeps across globe

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 14, 2001

LONDON -- For the first time in British history, and by order of Queen Elizabeth II, the guards at Buckingham Palace played the Star Spangled Banner on Thursday, a day on which America, still reeling from the devastation inflicted by its enemies, could be reminded also that it has many friends in the world.

Under a prematurely wintry London sky, thousands of people who had gathered at the gates of the palace for the traditional changing of the guard ceremony joined in an impromptu singing of the U.S. national anthem. It was just one of many gestures, great and small, inspired by the torrent of grief and sympathy sweeping Europe in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

Today has been declared an official day of mourning in Europe. The entire continent will observe three minutes of silence at 10 a.m., and special church services are planned, underlining the depth of the bonds that tie the United States to many countries around the world, and especially Europe.

But most people couldn't wait until today to convey their sorrow. At noon, Germans observed a five-minute silence, Finnish radio stations went off the air, and buses and trams in Denmark came to a halt. Hungarian fire trucks flew black flags, and Polish ones tooted their horns, a tribute to the firefighters of New York.

"I am here to show that the German people feel for the American people," said 37-year-old Berndt Mattig, who joined hundreds in front of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, amid a sea of flowers spread along the street leading up to the building.

In the Czech Republic, people lit candles at a vigil, and Portugal declared two days of mourning. In London, thousands lined up in pouring rain to sign a book of condolences and lay flowers beneath a statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt opposite the U.S. Embassy.

From Dublin to Moscow, Paris to Warsaw, flags are flying at half-staff and the gates of American embassies have been turned into impromptu shrines by people coming to lay flowers.

"This isn't just America, it affects everybody's hearts," said Angela Dee, a London store detective, who came alone to lay a single flower alongside the mountain of floral tributes piling up opposite the U.S. Embassy. She knows no Americans. "It's just so sad, so horrific," she said.

"I just want Americans to know we care," said Paul Smith, 16, who was among those who waited in line to pay respects in London. "Also, that we're with them, whatever they decide to do. This kind of thing, it's got to be stopped."

The terror attacks also prompted unusual unity and an outpouring of sympathy from China.

Putting aside months of angry words over Taiwan and a spy plane collision, Chinese President Jiang Zemin offered help with rescue efforts.

In Japan, professional baseball players and 14,000 fans observed a moment of silence before their game at Osaka Dome.

In Iran, several dozen Iranians held a candlelight vigil in a public square in the capital, Tehran, ignoring police orders to disperse.

"We have gathered here to tell the American people that we, too, mourn the death of their innocent beloved ones. We feel as if our own beloved ones have lost their lives," said Mitra Sadeqi, 40, who wept as she lit a candle with her daughter.

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