Washington -- In an
austere reversal of the situation four years earlier, an
American man stood in front of the British Embassy on Massachusetts
Avenue holding a sign that said, “We Are All British
Now.” It was a reference to the famous editorial in
the French paper Le Monde after September 11, 2001, which
read “we are all Americans now.”
The Union Jack being raised in front of State
Department building in Washington, DC.
He later added that sign to the pile of
letters and flowers placed at the embassy gates as Americans
expressed their sympathy and support for the British after
a series of bombings struck London on July 7.
Not long afterward, Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice arrived at the embassy to sign a letter of condolence
to the British people.
Many people who came to the embassy to express
their condolences drew parallels between the London bombings
and the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Jennifer Stan and Kristina Rasmussen, two local college
students, brought flowers to show their respect and wanted
the British people to know “our thoughts and prayers
are with them.” Rasmussen, who was studying abroad
in 2001, said, “I remember everyone laying flowers
at the American embassy in Denmark on September 11th and
I wanted to do the same.”
Chris Eldridge had taken time off work to
come lay flowers at the gates. “I wanted to show that
America stands with Britain on this terrible day and we
appreciate Britain’s support,” he said. “It
reminds me of the great lengths Britain and other nations
went to show their support for us."
Several British citizens who came to the
embassy said that they were touched by the outpouring of
support from Americans. Tracey Hauver, a 27-year-old from
Colchester, England, moved to Washington two months ago
to join her husband who is in the U.S. military. She came
to the embassy with her friend Suzanne Whitehead, 18, visiting
“I’m a bit lost for words today,”
said Hauver, who was clearly shaken by the events.
When asked what she thought when she heard
the news, she said, “You suddenly realize that it
happens to all of us and we’re all in it together.”
Hauver had not been able to get in contact with her family
in England because the phone lines were busy. She said she
has many friends in London, where she attended university.
“It’s just so devastating that
something like this has happened again,” said Whitehead.
But, she added, “it’s so nice to see support
from American people out here and to see the flowers and
to know that we’re not alone.”
Twelve-year-old American Tori Sancho-Bonet
came with her mother Karen and her 16-year-old cousin Natasha
Bernal, who was visiting from London. “It’s
just terrible, it’s not fair,” said Bernal emotionally.
Karen Sancho-Bonet expressed her sorrow that, “once
again terror has gripped us all.”
At noon, a small group of people gathered
for an interfaith prayer service with Christians and Jews.
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of the National Synagogue sent a message
to the British that “the world feels their pain and
their suffering, they are not alone.”
Herzfeld said terrorists were trying “to
instill fear and hatred in the world.” He underscored
the universality of the attacks on innocent civilians, saying,
“it could have been an attack on us, we think we are
safe when we ride the Metro [Washington’s subway system]
or we ride the bus.”
Indeed, around the United States, security
in transportation centers was increased and the threat level
was raised. In Washington Metro stations, police patrolled
with bomb-sniffing dogs and at Washington’s Union
Station, police made passengers seeking to board crowded
subway cars wait for trains with more space.
The four bomb attacks struck commuters during
rush hour in London on the morning of July 7. It is suspected
that the bombings were timed to coordinate with the Group
of Eight (G8) Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.
President Bush, attending the summit, extended
his condolences to the British people. saying, “We
will not yield to these people, will not yield to the terrorists.”
(See related article.)
At British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s
request, the G8 leaders continued their work on July 7 in
spite of the bombings and Blair’s return to London.
Hauver, the British tourist, contrasted
the ongoing work of the G8 with the horror of the attacks:
“The G8 summit is going on and they are there to help
For additional information on the London
bombings, see Response
Mercedes L. Suarez
Washington File Staff Writer