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Britons Remember Their Dead from Iraq War

Britons Remember Their Dead from Iraq War

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LONDON (AP) -- Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been widely criticized at home for taking Britain to war in Iraq, joined Queen Elizabeth II, religious leaders and others Friday in solemn remembrance of the dead at St. Paul's Cathedral.

The service was for the 50 British service personnel and one British civilian killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition invaded to depose Saddam Hussein.

The service included two religious leaders -- Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Roman Catholic Archbishop Cormac Murphy O'Connor -- who jointly questioned the moral legitimacy of the war.

Before the invasion, the spiritual leader of the Church of England pointedly asked "whether certain kinds of intervention would actually make worse the situation not only in Iraq but in the region."

During Friday's service, Williams said, "As we look out at a still uncertain and dangerous landscape, as we recall the soldiers and civilians killed since the direct military campaign ended, as we think of the U.N. personnel and the relief workers who have died, we have to acknowledge that moral vision is harder to convert into reality than we should like."

He also called on the nation to pray for everyone working to rebuild Iraq, including "the countless ordinary Iraqis who contribute to the restoration of order and justice simply by getting on with their lives."

Blair, who attended with his wife, Cherie, did not speak.

One father of a dead soldier criticized Blair for attending.

"The reason I don't want Mr. Blair there today is because if it was not for him ... there would not be a memorial service because the troops would never have gone out in the first place," said Gordon Evans, from Llandudno, Wales.

Evans' 24-year-old son, Lance Bombardier Llywelyn Evans, was among 12 killed in a helicopter crash in Kuwait at the start of the conflict.

Peter Brierley, whose son Shaun, 29, was killed in March, said he believed the war was unjustified, but his son disagreed.

"He actually went to war to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein," he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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