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Clinton concludes commemoration of world war's end


HONOLULU -- President Clinton offered a prayer for peace yesterday as he wound up a three-day commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Speaking at an interfaith religious service at the Waikiki Band Shell on Honolulu's most famous beach, Mr. Clinton said he hoped the world drew a lasting lesson from the global conflagration of a half-century ago.

"I believe the lesson will be . . . that citizens, when given a choice, will not choose to live under dictators; that people, when given the opportunity to let the better angels of their natures rise to the top, will not embrace theories of political or racial or ethnic superiority," he said.

The president read a prayer written by poet Stephen Vincent Benet that President Franklin D. Roosevelt recited in 1942, during the war's darkest period.

"God of the free, grant us brotherhood and hope and union, not only for the space of this bitter war, but also for the days to come, which shall and must unite all the children of Earth," he read.

"We are, all of us, children of Earth; grant us that simple knowledge. If our brothers are oppressed, then we are oppressed."

Mr. Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton joined comedian Bob Hope, his wife, Delores, and Maxine Andrews, the last surviving member of the Andrews Sisters trio, in a spirited rendition of "America the Beautiful."

The service was the final official ceremony in a weekend that included solemn remembrance of the war's 300,000 American dead at a military cemetery in the hills over Honolulu, homage to the men who died in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and tributes by Mr. Clinton to the men and women who won victory in 1945.

The weekend also included sightseeing, parties and Big Band dances for the estimated 10,000 World War II veterans who came to participate.

Mr. Hope, 92, who won the hearts of millions of troops in World War II with his traveling variety shows, appeared at one of the dances Saturday night and sang his old signature tune, "Thanks for the Memories," as some in the audience wept.

Later yesterday, the president flew to California, a key state in his re-election effort, for two days of events.

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