Chicago joined the nation in mourning Friday as victims of this week's terror attack were remembered in ceremonies great and small.
At Washington's National Cathedral, President Bush and four former presidents gathered to pay tribute, while at a Jewel-Osco store in Glendale Heights, about 100 customers and employees lit candles, one by one, observing a moment of silence.
"I've been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering," Rev. Billy Graham, the renowned evangelist, said at the Washington gathering. "I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction."
Across the globe, thousands of ordinary citizens joined Americans in voicing sympathy and support. In Dublin, a small group of Illinoisans who had attended an ecumenical service of remembrance and healing broke into an emotional, a cappella version of the national anthem on the steps of St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral. When they finished, a crowd of Dubliners burst into cheers, shouting, "God bless America."
Chicago-area ceremonies gave some people their first real opportunity since the terrorist acts of three days earlier to express grief and demonstrate solidarity.
At perhaps the biggest local gathering, several thousand people of all descriptions jammed the Daley Center Plaza for a short, but emotional, observance highlighted by a stirring rendition of "God Bless America" by Melina Pyron of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists.
Some in the audience dabbed at their eyes as a bell from the nearby First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple pealed in the background. Mayor Richard Daley and Gov. George Ryan and their wives hosted the event but did not speak.
"I think it was wonderful to come here to be with this great communion of people with the same hope for peace in our hearts," said Sue Ryan of Chicago, who attended with her husband. "It's really nice to see a gathering of people so solemn and yet so proud."
Several blocks away, a large crowd overflowed Pioneer Court on North Michigan Avenue for another memorial.
Lana Layne, one of those in the throng said, simply, "I'm here to feel with everyone else."
On the North Side, the green bell of the Midwest Buddhist Temple rang repeatedly before a small noontime service, while about 30 people filled the chairs and lined the walls of the chapel at the Pacific Garden Mission just south of the Loop.
"I prayed for understanding," said Billy Bailey, 40, who held a Bible under a tattooed arm. "I prayed for the people that were behind this thing, that God would forgive them."
In Lemont, a Hindu priest chanted a prayer in Sanskrit for the lives that were lost and dropped flower petals at the feet of a statue representing God.
At the Near North Side's Moody Bible Institute and at Benedictine University in Lisle, students and staff formed human chains.
Several hundred people, many in tears, gathered for a ceremony in the Lincoln Plaza at the Lake County Building in Waukegan. And hundreds more came together for 10 minutes of prayer and silence in the DuPage County administration building in Wheaton.
An untold number of smaller observances also took place.
At the Jewel-Osco in Glendale Heights, employees pulled packages of candles off the shelves for the vigil there. Gathering around the customer service counter, they observed a moment of silence and recited the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord's Prayer. Some sobbed.
"It was important to have everyone together," said store manager Joe Pestillo.
Just before noon, Paul Sourounis, owner of Sante restaurant in Hoffman Estates, called his waitresses and hostesses together. In a semicircle they stood briefly in front of a television to watch the service in Washington.
"This moment of silence is the least we can do," Sourounis said.
For some, the day had a particularly personal meaning. In the downtown offices of Aon Corp.--an insurance firm with 300 missing employees in New York--some workers bowed their heads at their desks while others stood stone-faced at a window. In a parking lot outside Aon's Glenview office, meanwhile, nearly 150 employees joined hands to observe several minutes of silence.
In Elgin, the piped-in music and the sound of the clinking coins came to a halt at noon on the Grand Victoria riverboat casino as more than 700 patrons paused to remember those who died.
Kathleen Jarkowski, 55, backed away from her slot machine, crossed herself, closed her eyes, prayed and wept so hard she temporarily lost a contact lens. She crossed herself again before resuming her position at the slot.
"My [late] husband was a policeman on the Chicago Police Department," she said. "I hope he can do something for all the police and firemen who are up there."
In Springfield, church bells pealed as 200 state workers gathered on the east lawn of the Capitol building to pray and sing. At one point, most members of the crowd broke into an enthusiastic chant of "USA! USA!" But others remained silent, eyes downcast.
In Dublin, a woman who said she was from Chicago approached an eight-member Illinois trade delegation after an ecumenical service of "remembrance and healing," said Pamela McDonough, who was among the delegation.
"She said we really need to pull together and said, `Would you guys sing the Star Spangled Banner with us?'" McDonough recounted. The group sang on the steps of the cathedral as a crowd outside the church grew silent, cheering when the anthem came to an end.
Later Tuesday, people scattered across the metropolitan area took part in an evening candlelight vigil promoted via e-mail and radio promotions.
Evanston residents lined up three and four deep in places along both sides of Ridge Avenue from the Chicago border on the south to Wilmette on the north.
Police and fire vehicles ran in procession down the street as residents spontaneously sang the National Anthem, the Battle Hymn of the Republic and other songs.
"Ever since [the attack] I can't stop thinking about those poor people," said Peggy Lukas, 33, a 2nd-grade teacher who stood outside with a candle and a small American flag. "I didn't know what to do, so I just wanted to come out and in solidarity against terrorism and in unity as an American."
In Schaumburg, Renee Brushaber, 32, sat on a blanket in front of her home surrounded by her two children, Samantha, 7, and Matthew, 4, and four candles.
"We believe in America and hope for the best for the people on the East Coast--to hope they get through this," she said.
Tribune staff reporters Ray Long, Christi Parsons, Nancy Ryan, Sarah E. Richards, Rudolph Bush, Oscar Avila, Tom McCann, Raoul V. Mowatt, freelance writers Tony Perri and Brian Cox and Tribune wires contributed to this report.