President ends official U.S. period of mourning

Flags at Camp David, around the world are restored to full-staff

September 24, 2001|By David L. Greene | David L. Greene,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

CAMP DAVID - President Bush led the nation out of official mourning yesterday at a small ceremony here, where Marines raised the American flag at the presidential retreat to the top of its pole for the first time since Sept. 11.

As Old Glory went up at Camp David in the Catoctin Mountains of Frederick County, flags at federal buildings and U.S. military installations worldwide also were taken to full-staff, 12 days after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington.

The president had signed a proclamation keeping all official American flags at half-staff until Sept. 16, to mourn the thousands killed at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Bush later signed another proclamation that extended the order through sunset Saturday.

Bush's dual messages

With portions of lower Manhattan and the crash site at the Pentagon still scenes of destruction and with the administration building support for a war on terrorism, the president organized yesterday's ceremony "to show the unity of the American people," said Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman.

The president has been delivering dual messages to the American people for days now - telling them to expect a sustained and difficult war, but also to try their best to return to normalcy.

Many Americans abided by his second request yesterday, resuming the Sunday tradition of watching NFL football, a week after the league postponed all its games.

At the ceremony in a meadow at Camp David, a small military band began playing the national anthem once the flag reached the top.

Bush, standing beside his wife, Laura, stood silently, his hand on his chest.

The American flag atop the White House, which, like some others, flies 24 hours a day, was raised Saturday evening as soon as Bush's proclamation expired.

Although his top advisers fanned out on the Sunday morning talk shows, intensifying their pressure on Afghanistan's Taliban regime to hand over Osama bin Laden, the president made no public comments over the weekend, save for his weekly radio address.

Bush took part in a teleconference call with his national security team and spoke Saturday with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Yesterday, Bush took a morning jog and a walk with his wife on a cool but sun-splashed morning here.

Preparing executive order

After the flag ceremony, he attended a church service at a chapel on the grounds of Camp David.

The president is also preparing to sign an executive order formally identifying some of the most active terrorists and terrorist groups in the world and freezing their assets in the United States.

Late yesterday afternoon, Bush returned to Washington, where aides say he will spend this week resuming work on some domestic issues - especially education - but focusing mostly on expanding international support for a war against terrorism.

He is scheduled to meet at the White House today with Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada.

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