‘All of us lost our in­no­cence on that day’

Mo­ment of si­lence: Bri­tons mark 10th an­niver­sary of Lon­don at­tacks

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Bri­tons paused in si­lence, laid flow­ers and lit can­dles Tues­day to mark the 10th an­niver­sary of sui­cide bomb­ings on Lon­don’s transit sys­tem in the worst terror at­tack on Bri­tish soil and a day of pain seared into Lon­don’s col­lec­tive mem­ory.

Four Bri­tish men inspired by al-Qaida blew them­selves up on three Lon­don sub­way trains and a bus dur­ing the morn­ing rush hour on July 7, 2005, killing 52 com­muters and in­jur­ing more than 700. The mem­ory of that morn­ing re­mains raw in this coun­try of 64 mil­lion.

Solemn cer­e­monies were held through­out the cap­i­tal, start­ing at the me­mo­rial in Lon­don’s Hyde Park de­voted to the vic­tims. Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron and Lon­don Mayor Boris John­son walked through the me­mo­rial’s 52 pil­lars — one for each vic­tim — to lay wreaths.

At 8:50 a.m., the mo­ment the at­tacks be­gan, the park fell silent. Fam­i­lies of vic­tims clutched flow­ers. Some in the crowd bowed their heads.

Sur­vivor Sajda Mughal said the mem­o­ries never re­ally go away.

“(The cer­e­mony) drew me back to the very same day, when I ex­pe­ri­enced the whole trau­matic event be­ing down there in the Pic­cadilly line, hear­ing those screams, peo­ple bang­ing on the car­riage,” she said. “And then, as I was watch­ing the wreath be­ing laid, I came back to 2015 and I thought ‘Well, I am alive, thank God I’m alive.’ But un­for­tu­nately, we’ve lost 52 lives.”

The fam­i­lies or­ga­nized a ser­vice of their own later in the day, a chance for them to re­mem­ber in a way of their choos­ing — with mu­sic, per­sonal com­ments and a cup of tea. Prince Wil­liam asked the fam­i­lies if he could at­tend, and sat qui­etly in the front row in sol­i­dar­ity with their grief.

The en­dur­ing pain of the day was ev­i­dent in the tears of sur­vivor Emma Craig, who was only 14 in 2005 when she was on her way to a work ex­pe­ri­ence trip to a le­gal firm in east Lon­don.

“All of us lost our in­no­cence on that day, our naivety, the thought that ‘some­thing like that could never hap­pen to me’ or even to Lon­don,” she said.

Trem­bling, she of­fered con­trast in a day of speeches etched with de­fi­ance, de­liv­er­ing a harder truth. She said that while peo­ple will say “ter­ror­ism won’t break us,” Craig knew only too well that it isn’t so sim­ple.

“The fact is it may not have bro­ken Lon­don, but it did break some of us,” she said.

Across the city, sur­vivors, trans­port staff and emer­gency work­ers laid flow­ers at the sites of the four bomb­ings. Flower petals rained from the dome of St. Paul’s Cathe­dral dur­ing a ser­vice fea­tur­ing the first peo­ple to re­spond to the bombed sites.

Lon­don­ers heeded a call to walk part of the way to work in mem­ory of the day 10 years ago when the city’s transit net­work stopped.

De­spite the na­tional flavour of the cer­e­monies, in many ways the day was so per­sonal for so many.

Rel­a­tives laid yel­low ger­bera flow­ers, which are said to sym­bol­ize in­no­cence. Sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers leaned over to touch the name of a loved one en­graved on a plaque at the base of the me­mo­rial.

One of them was Marie Fatay­iWil­liams, whose only son An­thony, died in the bus ex­plo­sion at Tav­i­s­tock Square.

Fatayi-Wil­liams, who is from Nige­ria, gained clo­sure when she walked past the me­mo­rial.

“To­day has ac­tu­ally sealed it for me to say, ‘ good­bye my love. You are never com­ing back but I know you are alive in my heart,”’ she said.

“So be, but fly an­gel. And leave be­fore we meet again.”


Ge­orge Psaradakis (cen­tre), the driver of the num­ber 30 bus which was blown up in Tav­i­s­tock Square July 7, 2005, looks at flo­ral tributes left close to the scene of the bomb­ings in Lon­don Tues­day as Bri­tons marked the 10th an­niver­sary of the sui­cide bomb at­tacks.

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