I must be the only person in the world who has not seen footage of 9/11. I was living in Alaska at the time and I didn’t have a TV. I’ve never felt the need to watch it since as I’m already up to my tonsils in man’s inhumanity to man. I wanted to see Ground Zero though, but the queue was too long and I was too hot and anyway, with that many people crawling all over the place, I suspected I’d have been as disappointed as I had been when I visited the Cistine Chapel. I’m all for limiting the number of visitors at any one time so that that I can actually enjoy the moment and not feel put upon to move on.
I still wanted to pay my respects, so I popped into St Paul’s. It’s hard to believe that it withstood the bombings and has been there since 1766. I quite fancied that I saw shapes in the shadows of the tombstones and spent quite a few minutes wandering the cemetery. One stone in particular caught my eye, erected to the actor George Frederick Cooke (17 April 1756 – 26 September 1812), father of the so-called romantic style of acting. The stone was erected by Edmund Kean, the man who made that style famous. On it is written: Three kingdoms claim his birth; both hemispheres pronounce his worth. Not a bad legacy at all.
Close by stands the Bell of Hope, which was presented to New York by the Mayor of London and the Archbishop of Centerbury in 2002. On each anniversary of 9/11 it is rung in memory of those who lost their lives. It also rang on 11 March 2004 when the bombs went off in Madrid , and on 7 July 2005 when London was hit. Symbolising the triumph of hope over tragedy, it would be nice if it tolled just once a year from now on. It is rung to honor the achievements of all peacemakers who srive, in ways big and small, to work for reconciliation around the world.