Monday, July 11, 2005


Today, I went to London for Commemoration Day – the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. In the morning, the Queen attended a memorial service at Westminster Abbey. This afternoon, following a program at Horse Guards Parade, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh rode back up the Mall to Buckingham Palace. Along the way, thousands of people lined both sides of the Mall, waving and cheering as the open car drove slowly by. Following the Queen was a band made up of Army, Navy and Air Force soldiers. And, last in the parade were hundreds and hundreds of veterans, each bearing the flag of their military unit. Following the parade, the street barricades were opened and thousands upon thousands of people filled the Mall and moved towards Buckingham Palace. Gathered in the streets in front of the Palace, we cheered as the Royal Family appeared on the balcony for an extended period of time as vintage aircraft flew over.

And this is why London will survive the bombings of this week.

Despite all the planning we are told the terrorists must have done, they missed a few things. They chose this week of all weeks to bomb the city. This week was the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the ending of World War II. St. James’ Park was temporarily the home of the Living Museum. The Living Museum had exhibits and re-enactors and veterans, all there to tell the story of the sacrifices made not only by the soldiers fighting in Europe and in the Pacific, but also by the people at home. London was heavily bombed during the war, but life went on.

They seem to have forgotten that London is one of the most diverse cities in the world. Walking around King’s Cross yesterday, I saw the flowers, cards and candles left in tribute to those killed and injured. I passed posters, some hand written, others professionally printed, all asking for information about a missing friend or loved one. The people represented by those posters came from around the globe: yes, England, but also Poland, Turkey, Israel, and China. Those killed were Christian, Jews, and Muslims. An attack on the people of London is, in many ways, an attack on the people of the world. And the people of the world will not bow to the threats of one small terrorist group.

Today I stood along the Mall and watched the Queen ride down the street. Despite the bombings this week, she and her husband rode in an open car. Later, she and her family appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Certainly there was a great deal of security, but no more so than for any other event of this type. In fact, there was, in some ways, far less security today than at last month’s Trooping the Colour since the Mall was not lined every few feet with soldiers.

After today’s parade went by, the police opened the barricades and the street flooded with people, all heading towards the Palace to see the Royal Family. The large screen televisions along the Mall showed aerial views of the Mall and we could see that the entire street, from Buckingham Palace back to the Admiralty Arch was full of people.

The message was clear: We are not afraid. We will not be cowed. We will not be intimidated. We are still here.


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