When Rick and I went to Europe several years ago, it rained. It rained almost every day. Not all day, always. But pretty much every day. But we went about our lives visiting all the places you always go on your first or second trip -- the monuments, the public parks and gardens, the churches, the things you see in books and movies. The things that are now considered terror targets. It just kept raining and we just kept going, frizzy hair and all.
The first time I visited London, with my mom in 1973, the IRA was in full explosive force. It seemed as though every time we were at a site, the next day a mailbox or trash can in that area exploded. We were a little nervous but was it going to stop us? No.
In Paris, we ate at cafes, in London, a pub. When Rick and I visited London in 2012, we walked all over (in the more-or-less rain). We walked over Westminster Bridge, taking photos of the houses of Parliament, eyeing the London Eye and looking down the Thames.
Little did we know that had we been in that same spot several years later, we might have been killed or injured by someone driving a car with an intent to kill. Terror. Terror done by one person.
We walked through London's beautiful parks, lush and brilliant green with all the rain.
They were filled with birds, wildlife, flowers all starting new life in the early spring. A peaceable kingdom.
We watched the Changing of the Guard -- a lucky accident, really, to end up by Buckingham Palace at just the right time.
The police on guard were nice, friendly. They appeared to carry no guns. They answered questions and gently pushed the crowd back when things got a bit dense.
We never thought that someone might consider driving through a crowd, jump from a van and stab tourists and residents alike.
It never dawned on us while we were in London that the police might ask us to evacuate our hotel as fast as possible.
My heart is aching for England this week and for those who have faced terror in other parts of Europe and the world. I have blog friends who live in the UK and my heart has been with you during the attacks in London and Manchester. I admire your strength and resolve, your courage and your determination.
I admire your police force who took down the three terrorists this past weekend in eight minutes.
I wonder, what would Queen Victoria think?
She would be proud of its police force, that is for certain.
The U.S. is not without its terror concerns. A week ago, a domestic terrorist with White Nationalist and racist overtones, murdered two in Portland, Oregon. This is far from the first such event. In 1927, only miles away from my home, the Bath, Michigan, school board treasurer, angered by his defeat in a recent election and increased taxes, was a suicide bomber. He first blew up the school killing 39 children, six adults and injuring another 58 people, then blowing himself up in his truck. It remains the deadliest mass murder at a school in the United States history. My dad took this photo in the aftermath.
I don't believe curbing immigration or profiling is the answer. It wouldn't have changed Bath. It wouldn't have changed Oklahoma City or Portland and it wouldn't have changed Manchester. It is probably far more likely that the terrorist next door has been born and bred in the country in which he or she inflicts terror. Hate is available 24/7 on the Internet, in many leaders, even in the radical interpretation of some religions.
I don't have answers. But I do believe there are some.
As for me, I like to remember the words of one young girl who saw terror that was unspeakable, terror that destroyed lives and brought the world into a war. Her story is a cautionary tale for all the countries who are looking at one religion, at one group of people as being evil, building walls to keep them out. The actions of today are all too similar of those of the 1930s. Hate-filled rhetoric, legislatures that will not stand up to power. But Anne Frank never lost hope.
"It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes
rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I
haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical.
Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything,
that people are truly good at heart."
So do I.
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