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US, Britain: Partners Against Terror - 2001-12-25

Immediately after the World Trade Center collapsed in New York City on September 11, British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared that his nation would stand "shoulder-to-shoulder" with America in a war against terrorism.

Prime Minister Blair was the first world leader to speak out in support of the United States shortly after the attacks.

He threw out a speech he was going to make to a trade union congress that day. Instead, he gave a brief statement pledging Britain's full backing for the United States.

At a news conference the next day, Mr. Blair explained that the attacks were against all freedom-loving people. "This was not an attack on America alone," he said. "This was an attack on the free and democratic world everywhere. And this is a responsibility that the free and democratic world has got to shoulder together with America. It is important that Americans know that their allies and their friends around the world do stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them."

On the streets of Britain, ordinary citizens responded with their own signs of solidarity. Young people suddenly appeared wearing American flag T-shirts and New York Yankees baseball caps. Britons who do not even fly their own Union Jack flag, taped the American flag in their windows.

The American national anthem was played for the first time at Buckingham Palace and at Saint Paul's Cathedral during special memorial services.

Christopher Cooke joined thousands of Londoners who came to the Buckingham Palace ceremony two days after the terrorist attacks. "You could never have contemplated a thing like this could happen. And I'm sure our hearts go out to everybody that's over there. We have friends in America and we rang them up last night. And they seem to be okay. They are in Boston. And I'm glad to hear about that. But anyway, there's nothing much else you can do, except just feel for the people that are in America and be with them," Mr. Cooke said.

The next day, the dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, John Moses, offered a special prayer for the American people. "We come together as members of the free world to stand alongside the people of the United States of America in their grief, wherever they may be. We pray, especially as members of this nation, with the American community in the United Kingdom, for all who have lost their lives in the devastation of recent days. We pray for them, their families, their friends, their colleagues."

In the weeks that followed, Britain worked closely with the United States in forging a global anti-terrorism coalition. On October 7, the British and American militaries launched the first strikes on terrorist and military targets in Afghanistan. And the two governments continue to plan together for the reconstruction and humanitarian relief of post-war Afghanistan.

Part of VOA's Year End Series for 2001