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Last Updated: Monday, 11 September 2006, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Bereaved return to 'special place'
By Peter Hunt
BBC News

Britons who lost loved ones in the 11 September attacks in New York five years ago have gathered to mourn and remember near the US Embassy in London.

Alex Clarke (L) and Brian Tuttle
Alex Clarke (L), whose daughter was killed, paid tribute at the ceremony

"This is an incredibly special place to us," said one of the bereaved relatives standing in the memorial garden with its oak archway, an abundance of flowers and three bronze plaques bearing the names of the 67 British victims.

In the days following the 11 September attacks, Grosvenor Square next to the American embassy became the focal point for those wishing to express their sorrow.

The bereaved were there, their grief still raw, some clutching photographs of their dead children.

They returned on the first anniversary, when a New York police officer brought with him a Union Jack found in the rubble - and on the second anniversary, when the Princess Royal opened the memorial garden.

This year they were back again, standing on the ground beneath which is buried a piece of metal girder, recovered from Ground Zero, which has been preserved in resin.

The garden is particularly important for those who received no remains and have no graves to visit.

Brief ceremony

Security was tight, a reminder of how the world has changed. The park was closed and more than a dozen police officers patrolled the empty spaces.

There's not a moment when I don't think about what Olly would have said, or thought or have done
Joy Bennett

The ceremony was brief and subdued. The relatives brought flowers - and their memories.

For some, their sunglasses protected them from the bright sunlight and any inquisitive glances.

There were a few speeches and a minute's silence was observed - as on the edges of the square, the London traffic rumbled by.

Later, some of the participants spoke to reporters.

International stage

US ambassador Robert Tuttle handled the political questions. He said the world, five years on, was a safer place. There was a lot more co-operation and people had woken up to the fact the attacks were not just against the US.

Flowers at the ceremony
Many flowers were laid at the London ceremony

Meanwhile, Alex Clarke spoke from her personal perspective. Her daughter Surea was murdered five years ago.

Mrs Clarke said she had learnt to adapt. She had two sons. She couldn't disappear or just give up. She had to go on.

For some of the bereaved, the challenge was that this important day was not as private or as personal as they might have liked. Their loss was being played out on a national and an international stage.

When I first met Joy Bennett four years ago, she commented on how inappropriate her first name was. Her son, Olly, had been dead a year. This afternoon she told me she still thinks of him every single day.

"There's not a moment when I don't think about what Olly would have said, or thought or have done. People ask me is it better? It's not better. It's different, that's all I can say. It's not better at all."




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