10 years, some days it feels like yesterday, others make it seem a lifetime ago. It is a lifetime – my nephews, my children and even some of the people I’m interviewing for work have no memories or only very vague recollections of July 7th 2005. For some of us the memories are as vivid as if it were yesterday. The blogging world, the press and conversations will be full of stories of 7/7 over the next few days, after all a decade ago life changed. These are my thoughts.
10 years ago this week I sat at my desk in London and waited as news unfolded around me, unsure of what was going on, waiting as the rest of the world did for confirmation of what had happened. In a city that only a day before had been jubilant after being awarded the 2012 Olympics. I learnt from my sister that my dad was in London that day – and that he was safe. I emailed my then fiancé who at that point knew nothing. I waited for colleagues who were delayed to get to work. I saw snipers positioned on the roof of the palace opposite. I listened and waited as our boss explained that there was only one member of staff who they couldn’t contact, the following day we learnt that she was one of the 52, RIP Anne. I joined other staff to walk from our office to the station. I bought a coke because the station had sold out of water and travelled home on a train packed with people all trying to come to terms with the day’s events.
52 people set out on a journey that morning. 52 people died. Many more suffered physically and emotionally. Today is about them.
Yet it is not July 7th 2005 that has influenced ME it is not the fear and worry that projected itself around the capital that day that I remember frequently. It is the words I heard a week later when I (and what felt like most of London) attended a vigil in trafalgar square. I stood in the hot sun and witnessed the nations faith leaders stand shoulder to shoulder, Christian next to Muslim, Muslim next to Jew, Jew next to Hindu. They stood in front of crowd that should have been angry and frightened and declared that ‘these atrocities were not done in the name of my faith.’ It was the most moving occasion of my life, I was a part of a crowd who were proud and not scared to be in London, who wouldn’t be beaten by terrorists.
10 years on it is July 14th and Trafalgar Square I think of frequently. Those leaders who were determined to preach peace and tolerance in a city that could so easily have become fractured and allowed hate to dominate. If they could be tolerant at such a challenging time surely we should live our lives that way too.
If anything I feel more strongly now than I did then about the need to promote understanding and religious tolerance. When we stop defining people by their faith (or gender, or sexuality) and see them as friends then we can start to understand them and celebrate the differences and similarities between us!
July 7th changed the world but July 14th changed me.