September 24, 2001 11:44 AM

Tears flowed freely in Yankee Stadium on Sunday as mourners led by clergy from the world’s major religions paid somber tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on America. “At this service we seek to summon what Abraham Lincoln called ‘the better angels of our nature’ in recognizing this is not an attack just on the city of New York or the United States of America, but the very idea of a free, inclusive and civil society,” actor James Earl Jones said in his introduction to the program, called “A Prayer for America.” “Our nation is united as never before,” he said. Bette Midler drew tears with an emotional rendering of “Wind Beneath My Wings,” while country singer Lee Greenwood got flags waving with “God Bless the U.S.A.” The Boys Choir and the Girls Choir of Harlem raised spirits with a beautiful rendition of “We Shall Overcome.” Oprah Winfrey, speaking resolutely for the need to move from suffering to strength, drew cheers when she said from the podium, “God Bless New York.” At several points during the ceremony, strangers reached across the aisles to hold hands with others as the spiritual and political leaders called for national unity in the wake of the attack. Mayor Giuliani, who received a sustained standing ovation, vowed that the city would rebound from the attacks. “The proud twin towers that once crowned our famous skyline no longer stand, but our skyline will rise again,” he said. Across New York Harbor in New Jersey, a separate event for that state’s victims was held in a park with views of the scarred Manhattan skyline. Ray Charles sang “America, the Beautiful,” and Christopher Reeve spoke, stressing the need for strength in the face of sorrow.

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