Beliefnet
When times are bleakest, some of the most wonderful acts of courage and kindness are performed. Not only in New York and Washington, but throughout the United States--indeed throughout the world--people responded to Tuesday's tragedy with an admirable mixture of compassion and presence of mind. During the next weeks, we here at Beliefnet will be collecting their stories. If you have any, please add them. And feel free to check back here, as we will continue adding to this story.

Renaldo McFarlane, Jr. was born September 13 at 1:25 a.m. to Jacqueline Landrau. More than eight months pregnant at the time, Jackie somehow made it down 45 flights of smoke-filled stairs in 2 World Trade Center. The baby is a healthy 8 pounds, 11 ounces, and both of his parents are humbly grateful.

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Crime was reported down in many cities across America. Police officers in New York made 64% fewer arrests than they had the same week a year earlier.

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According to USA Today, mourning staff members from the former Windows on the World restaurant on top of the World Trade Center, are helping serve thousands of free meals at Nino’s, an Italian restaurant near ground zero. “The owner of Windows on the World is sweeping the floor,” said Nino’s owner.

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All across the country, people are reporting that they are smiling at and talking to strangers. Store clerks say customers are being polite to them. Friends are holding hands. Families are hugging and talking to each other. Judith Martin, Miss Manners, reports a shocking return to civility. “Please, please, let’s make it last,” she exhorts.

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On the donation front: WorldCom has donated phones, pagers and long distance service. Staples has given computers to ruined companies and lets family members searching for victims copy flyers for free. U-Haul is giving a month’s free storage to victims in Washington and New York.

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New York’s City Center has offered free tickets for the fall season to fire, police and EMS personnel. This includes opera, American Ballet Theater, Alvin Ailey, New York Festival Flamenco, Ballet National de Cuba and the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players.

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Road rage is down, according to Mantill Williams of AAA. “People are showing a strong concern not only for their own safety, but for their neighbors’.” Indeed, the Florida Highway patrol reported many fewer reports of aggressive driving and logged 15% fewer crashes than they had the same week the year before.
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The New York Daily News reported that St. Paul’s Chapel, survived the Revolutionary War, the great New York fire of 1776 and the war of 1812. It stood through the two world wars of the 20th Century. And, somehow, though only one block from the World Trade Center, the little church emerged from the devastation all around it without a scratch. Thursday after the attacks, the chapel opened as a food distribution center. And Saturday at noon, Rev. Lyndon Harris climbed up into the little steeple and rang the bell, joining a chorus of church bells from around the city.

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Jeff Mullally, a tractor salesman from Jeffersonville, New York, was talking to John Deere agents when the tragedy occurred. They realized their small six-wheeled all terrain vehicles called Gators might be of help. Jeff got permission to bring some in immediately to the World Trade Center. He expected to simply drop them off, but he was asked to say and help drive the Gators. He has worked there for days.

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Congresswoman Lindsey Graham, a Republican, admits of her fellow representatives, "Sometimes we can't agree on what time it is. But that has given way to sheer, raw patriotism." Former antagonists Dick Arney, R-Texas, and Richard Gephardt, D-Mo, were on CNN together. "We have become friends," said Arney. We are now showing this nation's unity in the halls of Congress."

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Kathy and Don Starbuck, regular folks from upstate Huguenot, New York, returned home on Sunday to find an unexpected message on their answering machine. "We're a French family from outside Paris, and we're calling Americans in a show of solidarity," said an unknown woman with a French accent. "We hope that better days come to you."

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On Wednesday, a group of doctors and nurses drove up from Kentucky to leave plastic bins filled with medical supplies.

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The New York Times notes that many companies have pledged multi-million dollar donations in cash and services, including General Electric ($10 million for families of lost emergency workers), Microsoft ($5 million in cash, $5 million in services), a four-year-old girl who emptied her Pokemon wallet of $4.37, and elementary school students sold lemonade and gave the proceeds to the Red Cross.

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Dozens of Palestinian men, women and children gathered spontaneously upon hearing the news in front of the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem, lighting candles and placing flowers along its walls. Some of the placards they carried read: "Terror is our common enemy" and "We are victims too."

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Palestinians in East Jerusalem held a candle vigil on 12 September to express their grief and solidarity with the American families struck by this tragedy. Mr. Abdel Qader Al-Husseini, son of the late Palestinian leader Faisal Al-Husseini led the candle vigil.

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Disneyland came to a complete halt on Friday, as parents, children and Mickey Mouse stood completely still facing flags as "God Bless America" was played, and bunches of red, white, and blue balloons were released skyward.

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New York Museums opened their doors, but stopped charging any admission. "We offer sanctuaries of respite and contemplation that we hope can provide some comfort to the people of New York City during this very sad and difficult time," said an open letter signed by the directors of 11 museums, released Friday, September 14.

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Thursday night, as Broadway theaters re-opened for the first time, the casts of every musical--from The Producers to The Rocky Horror Picture Show ended their curtain calls by singing Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." Audiences stood and heartily sang along.

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