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Witness to the London Bombings

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I WILL NEVER FORGET THE morning of 7/7 in London. I was traveling back from the G8 Summit in Edinburgh, and it had been a fantastic week for London, with the amazing Live 8 concert and the news only the day before that my beautiful home city had won its bid to host the 2012 Olympics. The mood in London on the night of the 6th had been euphoric, and people were literally dancing in the streets.

The next morning there was a very strange story on the BBC about a massive “power surge” on London’s underground train system. It was the moment we had been waiting for since Sept. 11, 2001. My first instinct was to make sure that everyone around me, and our thousands of employees in the city, were okay. But there was no panic. There was compassion, determination, even humor in the face of adversity that I never thought I would witness in London in my lifetime.

I remembered my father, who had fought Rommel in Africa as one of the famed Desert Rats, describing the stoic bravery of Londoners during the blitz, and I suddenly knew that I was witnessing the same thing. People just got on with it. It made me very proud to be British.

London was back to normal more quickly than anyone could have ever believed. My daughter and son go to college every day in this city (Holly is in the third year of her medical degree at UCH Medical School, so is literally in the front line in any emergency), and nothing that has happened has had any effect on them or their friends nor our thousands of people working here on trains, planes or in megastores. Today, on a cold winter morning as we get ready for Christmas, the tragedy is not forgotten, but it has not changed us. I now understand better than I did that I have been privileged to have been brought up in a city which will not bow its head to fear, bullying or threats by anyone at any time, and I don’t think it ever will.