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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 March 2006, 00:12 GMT
Day for reflection in Madrid
By Danny Wood
BBC News, Madrid

Ignacio Valera
Student Ignacio Valera said he felt he had to attend
Two years later and Madrid does seem to be getting over its worst ever terrorist attack.

At the ceremonies held to mark the tragedy there is still a strong sense of sadness but the overall feeling is one of solidarity and quiet reflection.

Compared to the anniversary one year ago there are fewer signs of trauma.

In Madrid's main square, La Puerta del Sol, dozens of victims of the bombings and hundreds of onlookers watched a ceremony that included sombre classical music and several minutes of silence.

Ignacio Valera, a student, was there to express his solidarity:

When I see all my scars each day, the truth is it takes a lot for me to look ahead
Jose Ramirez Castanero
Man injured in the bombings

"I feel like I should be present here. It's a date for reflection and that fills me with sadness as well. I'm here as part of Madrid."

Like Ignacio, Maria Frances Carmedida, an elderly women attending the ceremony, is keen to express her support for the victims and her city:

"I'm a Spaniard and a woman of Madrid and a person of the world.

"I think that we should all reflect on an event that can happen to anyone and we must work together in the world to make sure this doesn't happen again in any part of the world. This is the best reflection we can all make."

'No future'

But for the victims of the attack it is a different story.

Teddy bear left at shrine in Atocha station
Madrid's stations saw private memorials along with the rallies

Jose Ramirez Castanero, vice-president of the 11 March Association for the Victims of Terrorism, was gravely injured in the attacks - breaks in a leg, major damage to an arm, injuries in his lungs and burns to most of his body.

Two years later he is still trying to recover his mobility and, like dozens of others, he is still receiving psychological and psychiatric treatment.

On the eve of the anniversary he told me:

"I'm a man without a future. I hope this changes but now I can't think further than a few days ahead.

"When I see all my scars each day, the truth is it takes a lot for me to look ahead."

And at these quiet events it was not difficult to spot the anguished faces of people who still find the memory of the train bombings too hard to bear.

Fighting back tears as she watched the wreath-laying ceremony in Madrid's main square, Barbara Rodriguez explained that she was touched very closely by the attacks:

"It's still just as hard, it's just as hard."

Solidarity

At a ceremony in The Forest of the Absent, where nearly 200 cyprus trees remember each person who died in the bombings, hundreds of people, including dozens of victims, Prime Minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero and the leader of the opposition, Mariano Rajoy, observed five minutes of silence.

After a sad cello solo called The Music of the Birds, two small children placed a floral wreath at the park's 11 March memorial.

At another low-key and sombre event, a delegation from Morocco held a small ceremony at Atocha station - the focus of the attacks two years ago that claimed 191 lives.

Other small ceremonies have been taking place all over Madrid.

The message evident at all of them - solidarity with the victims and unity against terrorism.


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