Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Four Years On

Four years ago, 52 people were killed on Tubes and buses as they made their way into work. To remember the victims of the July 7 bombings, a memorial will be unveiled today in Hyde Park -- 52 pillars commemorating each Londoner killed.

I remember the shock I felt when I first heard about the bombings four years ago. I was teaching in a secondary school in Staines, just outside of Heathrow. I had a car at the time, so the Tube for me was just an unpleasant memory. I'd just finished teaching the first two lessons of the day and was in the computer room with some other teachers when we read online about the bombings.

It was hard to believe. But the horrific photos of twisted metal, and the shock and panic on the faces of commuter in business suits -- those more apt to be single-mindedly pushing you out of the way -- drove it home.

Back in class, students worried about parents in the city and what it all meant for their own safety as residents of one of the world's biggest cities. Unfortunately, there were no answers I could give them.

Driving back into central London that afternoon was surreal. The roads were empty; Tubes and buses had ground to a complete halt. Shops had closed and the streets were deserted. It was like the city was under siege.

But over the next few days, Londoners reclaimed their city with a vengeance. Tubes ran again and although fear and tension was palpable, there was also a sense of determination. London is a city with people from everywhere -- people who escaped fear and persecution in their homelands -- and we would not let such events destroy our home.

My thoughts are with the families of the victims of 7/7 and all Londoners who helped in the aftermath.


Nancy J. Parra said...

Wow- you really brought this home. God bless!

Anita Davison said...

My daughter was just out of university and began her new job in London - She couldn't call us to say she was OK because all the mobile networks had been shut down for security reasons. A tense few hours on a horrible day.

In my twenties, I have memories of walking through Holborn with broken glass all over the road from an IRA bomb and a policeman running out of a building and hurling me into an alley as another one was about to go off.

I spent the morning in a coffee shop with my co-workers and we went back to work afterwards - We're Londoners - that's what we did.

My parents lived and worked through the Blitz without pausing - and so it goes on - OMG I didn't mean this to be a short story! Sorry!