To mark the 10th anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11, the 9 11 London Project has commissioned a public work of art entitled "After 9/11" by New York artist Miya Ando. The memorial has been temporarily erected at the Battersea Park just across the Thames River from us here in Chelsea. We took a walk over there this evening to view the artwork which had been dedicated just a few days ago.
The steel which Ando used was from the World Trade Center and remains exactly in its form as it was recovered at Ground Zero. The steel panel of the building has been highly polished into a reflecting surface. The pieces themselves were donated by the Port Authority of New York and stand 26 feet tall.
As we headed across the Albert Bridge toward the park, it started raining, and even though we were tempted to turn back, something inside of us drove us on through the rain to find the memorial. Earlier in the day, we had been walking near the American Embassy, where a memorial service was scheduled at the September 11 Pavilion in Grosvenor Square outside of the Embassy, and we noticed a helicopter hovering overhead for about 30 minutes, arousing a little concern on our parts as to what might be going on. The families of 67 Britons who had been killed on that infamous day had gathered to commemorate the lives of their loved ones.
The closer we got to the Embassy, the more we heard loud chanting, and saw streets blocked off. We asked a police officer if there was any reason we should not head towards the Embassy, and he discouraged us, saying that a radical group of Muslims was stirring up trouble. Moments later, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall's car passed right in front of us as they made their way to the event.
During the moment of silence at the moment when American Airlines 11 first crashed into the first tower, a group of about 60 Muslims Against Crusades burned an American flag and yelled derogatory statements about the US, disturbing what should have been a holy and respectful moment.
I think because we were so grieved at the thought of such hate and disrespect towards our homeland, we wanted to do something to show our respect today, and that is why we made our way to the memorial so late in the day. It made us proud to stand there with a few other Britons who were standing in the drizzle and share our respect in unity with the folks who live in our "home away from home."
May we join hands with others around the world in remembering the sacrifices that were made that terrible day and pray for a more peaceful resolution to our world's problems in the days to come.