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Honoring US Citizens at Buckingham Place - 2001-09-13


Thousands of people, many of them Americans, turned out Thursday in London for a special "changing of the guard" ceremony at Buckingham Palace in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

The changing of the guard ceremony had all the usual pomp and circumstance that attracts millions of tourists to Buckingham Palace each year.

But this time there was also a somber mood among the spectators, because Queen Elizabeth had ordered a special commemoration for the victims of this week's attacks in the United States.

Many Americans, both tourists and residents of London, along with British people turned out for the event. Some waved American flags. Many wiped away tears as the U.S. national anthem was played, followed by two minutes of silence.

The U.S. ambassador to Britain, William Farish, attended the ceremony. He stood beside Britain's Prince Andrew at the front portal of Buckingham Palace.

Among the crowd was Jacqueline Christian, an American Airlines flight attendant. She has been grounded in London since Tuesday because her plane was ordered back to Britain as it flew toward the United States shortly after the attacks. Ms. Christian says it has been difficult not knowing the fate of her many friends in New York. "You know, we're extremely upset and angry. We're anxious," she said. "It's [a] very hard when you're an ocean away from your family and friends."

An American tourist in London, Corliss Green, said she came to Buckingham Palace out of a sense of common loss. "And of course we're so sad to be away from home at this time. We feel a little displaced, so it's nice to be here with other Americans and with the British people to mourn their loss and our loss," he said.

Christopher Cook is a Londoner who came to Buckingham Palace to show his solidarity with the American people. Mr. Cook says Americans have been fortunate up to now to avoid the kinds of terrorism that Britain has had to live with. "We've been on the alert for something happening in London for years. I mean, what's happened in New York has become commonplace when we've actually seen things in Northern Ireland happen, day after day, week after week, over the last 25 years," Mr. Cook said. "We've had 25 years of it in Northern Ireland."

A band played somber music as the ceremony ended. Many participants left to go to the U.S. embassy, to sign a condolence book and lay flowers at the base of a statue of President Franklin Roosevelt. He led America's efforts to aid Britain during World War II. Now, some Britons say, it may be time to repay the favor.

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