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11 September 2001

September 15, 2001
Parc des Etats Unis
Square des Etats Unis (United States Square) in Paris, with its memorial to the US dead killed in France during WWII. Parisians laid fresh flowers for those killed in the US September 11th.

I was traveling on business when the news of the events of 11 September reached me in Paris. While in France, I experienced tremendous compassion from everyone I encountered, no matter their nationality, religion, language, or creed.

The sense of common loss in Europe and elsewhere around the world was unbelievable, but also heartening, as I saw first hand just how united French people (and everyone else I came into contact with while in France) are with the United States. Europe and the entire world mourn with Americans. Two events in particular struck me as particularly poignant reminders that we are all in this together. 

Flame de la Liberte
Liberty Flame along the Seine. The flame is an exact replica of the Statue of Liberty’s torch in New York City. The Liberty Flame in Paris served as an impromptu memorial to Princess Diana; after 11 September, people lay flowers at its base to honor and remember the victims of the attacks.

The Queen ordered the American anthem played during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, which is the only time I believe that anything other than the British anthem has ever been played in history. Knowing how strongly proud and patriotic the British people are, this really hit me as a testament to the strength of their support for all of us. The barriers of nationality are completely dissolved in this tragedy.

On a more personal note for me, a Parisian waiter one night the week of 11 September was guessing that my friend and I were British (possibly because of my facility with the French language). When I told the waiter we were from the United States, he almost cried. He shook our hands and told us how much he was thinking of the US and how upset he was. After dinner, he followed us all the way to the door and shook our hands again and told us we’d be very welcome to come back again. He was almost crying then too. That is how it was with most every person I met while I was in Paris.

The pictures included here illustrate the level of sorrow for the victims and the depth of conviction to resist and combat terrorism that people around the world share with the United States. I hope they are as comforting, and also enervating, for you as they have been for me.

I am very glad to be home, but I will never forget what I experienced in Paris in the long, terrible days after the 11th. We are all in this together. God bless all of us as we work harder than ever to make this world a better place for everyone, everywhere.

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