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Americans Show Support for British After Attacks in London

Visitors to U.K. Embassy in Washington draw parallels with September 11

Posted: July 8, 2005


The Union Jack being raised in front of State
Department building in Washington, DC.
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.”

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 from England.

“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 world peace.”

For additional information on the London bombings, see Response to Terrorism.

Mercedes L. Suarez
Washington File Staff Writer

 

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