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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 September, 2003, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Personal grief after public tragedy
by Jenny Matthews
BBC News Online in central London

"Grief is the price we pay for love."

That was the message from the Queen at a New York remembrance service, just days after more than 3,000 people died in the 11 September terror attacks.

And that is the phrase etched onto the wooden pergola, opened exactly two years later as part of a small memorial garden to the 67 British victims of the attacks.

That is also very much the impression given by the solemn faces of their relatives, at a remembrance service to mark the opening of the garden.

The memorial garden
Victims' families wanted a tranquil memorial to remember the dead
The mood was sombre as people wandered round the small garden ahead of the service. There were no obvious tears, and some even tried a few subdued jokes.

"The flowers are lovely, aren't they," said one woman quietly, as she touched the lush green foliage.

"You're OK, aren't you?" whispered another to her companion, quietly putting her arm round her as they gazed at the plants together.

The garden is a small lush oval in the middle of the sun-bleached lawn of Grosvenor Square, a rectangle the size of several football pitches which also borders the US Embassy in central London.

The plants were carefully chosen, partly to mark British and US unity - with the drooping grace of the native US tobacco plant, for instance - and partly for their symbolic values, with plants like rosemary for remembrance and ivy for fidelity.

'Courage and hope'

One half of the oval is taken up by the wooden, classical-style pergola, which shelters three long dark plaques bearing the names of the British victims.

Friends and family of the British victims
Relatives each laid one white rose for each British victim
One father gently ran his fingers over the name of his lost son on the middle plaque, before walking away silently.

For many of the relatives, this garden is the only physical focus they will have for their grief. Most of their loved ones' bodies have never been found, so there are no graves.

The remembrance service, addressed by the Princess Royal, was simple and personal.

She spoke of the "numbing, gut-wrenching shock" the relatives had felt, and said she hoped the garden would provide a place of "beauty, tranquillity and faith."

"This is your garden," she said.

White roses

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell said the memorial honoured "your loss, your courage and your hope".

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"For you, and for the whole world, it is a testament for the love you have for those who died... lasting proof that they will never be forgotten," she said.

At the end of the service, relatives queued in quiet groups to lay one long-stemmed white rose for each of the 67 dead.

It was too much for some, who returned to their seats with shoulders shaking, in silent tears.

One little blonde girl, perched on her father's lap, wiped away his tears and kissed him on the cheek.

She seemed, like the garden, to symbolise new life and the opportunity to begin to look forward.

Perhaps the garden might, in the words of the Christina Rossetti poem read out at the service, help speed the time which must come after grief to "forget and smile", as well as to "remember and be sad".




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