The Terrorist Attacks
Windsor Flags at Half
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as Remembrance Services held across Europe
Midday, Friday, 14th September
2001, and the Union Flag flies at half
mast over Windsor Castle as HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh,
Prince Charles plus all UK political leaders join mourners at
St Paul's Cathedral for a National Memorial Service, just three
days after the horrific events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Earlier at 11.00am, the nation had stood silent for three minutes
as a mark of respect. This was universely observed throughout
the town with signs in almost every shop stating that the silence
would be observed. As the moment arrived the town fell silent.
For a moment more, just the sound of an elderly lady's walking
frame heightened the poignancy of the silence. She too stopped
and the stillness was now total. In the streets drivers stood
by their vehicles and pedestrians bowed their heads. Children
at school fell silent too.
Even though at this moment no-one knew the extent of the loss
of life, we believed at the time that possibly over 5,000 people
had lost their lives, or were missing. For those struggling to
clear the wreckage in New York, many days, if not weeks, lay
ahead of the rescue services in recovering those who had perished,
lying beneath the estimated 450,000 tons of glass, rubble and
steel girders that had been a symbol of American prosperity.
The day before, on Thursday, at Buckingham Palace in London during
the Changing of the Guard, the American National Anthem had been
played and a two minute silence observed. Prince Andrew, The
Duke of York was present, accompanying the American Ambassador.
This was an unprecedented departure from accepted Royal protocol.
The Duke of York had previously experienced what so many other
air travellers experienced that day when American airspace was
closed and all trans-Atlantic flights either had to divert to
Canada, or to return to London. The Duke was returned to London,
where he immediately played his part in Royal duties associated
with the disaster. The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, was apparently
much closer to the terrifying scenes, being on her way to The
World Trade Centre at the time, preparing for a meeting about
her US charity Chances for Children.
Prime Minister Tony Blair recalled Parliament on Friday 14th
September, and made a statement to the packed House of Commons
at 9.30am. Shortly after, he and other political leaders left
to attend the service at St Paul's Cathedral. The House of Lords
was also recalled.
Windsor Parish Church, High Street, flies
the Union Flag at half mast against a clear blue sky.
At the foot of the Castle walls, British
and American flags are draped at the foot of the memorial to
Prince Christian Victor with a handwritten message "Let
there be Peace".
As with millions of others worldwide, Windsorians
were stunned and shocked as the horrific events unfolded in America.
Many, this writer included, just happened to catch a breaking
news story on television that a light aircraft had hit the World
Trade Centre in New York and there on the screen were the live
pictures of the initial fire and smoke. After just a few minutes
there came the incredible sight of a second aircraft apparently
hitting the towers. The BBC News 24 studio commentator was stunned.
He could not believe what he had seen. "Was that another
aircraft?" he asked incredulously. It was.
From this moment on any thoughts of work
were abandoned. Here was unfolding a story of massive significance
and that a catastrophe had been visited not just upon the USA,
but upon all the world. May our leaders be guided wisely in the aftermath...
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