On September 13, 2001, the royal orchestra played the American national anthem during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. This was two days after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers when many first responders and innocent bystanders lost their lives in the attack.

I watched this after a day of hearing stories about people I knew, from less emotional stories like the ones of my parents to the personal stories of those who lost loved ones. Both of my parents were working that day and rushed home when they found out, which they still remember, but they didn’t know anyone personally. But it is the stories of those who were there, or who actually knew people there at the time that really affect you. My psychology teacher, when prompted, told the story of a close family friend who had flown to New York for a business trip, only to lose his life during a meeting in one of the towers.

When I got home, I was already primed with the sadness of those involved and feelings of pride for my country and humanity in general, when I got home and as usual, checked my phone. I saw an Instagram story posted by a close friend of mine shortly after opening the app and heard the national anthem being played by a band. Only after reading the caption did I realize why this was so significant. The caption at the top of the video informed me that this was during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and that the Queen had asked the royal band to play this instead of the usual marching music the guards play. After learning this, I noticed how many American flags were being waved, and how many tears were being shed. This was an experience I’ll likely remember forever.

This affected me in multiple ways. The first of course is the pride for my country I felt. I wasn’t alive then, but I do know my history, and the time following 9/11 was one of the most unified times in history. There were people on opposite sides of the aisle working together, neighbors mourning with one another, and a strong sense of pride that the fourth plane was stopped by the brave Americans in it.

The other way it affected me, was the fact that this was happening in London. This in itself means a few things, the first is that the USA is a symbol of freedom. In Hong Kong during the recent protests, there were many American flags waved by those who were protesting for their freedom, and there are other examples of the United States being a symbol, but for now, I’ll tell you the other reason this is significant.

It also reminded me that we are all human, and go through a lot of the same trials as others. While I’m sure some of the people waving flags were American, I’m also certain that most of the people in that crowd weren’t from the states, and that most of the civilized world mourned during that time. There were many lives lost in the attacks and many people mourned for those they didn’t even know.

This tells me that humanity always has hope, but sometimes we need to be reminded that we are actually one people regardless of race, religion, or any other distinguishing factor. That’s part of what makes this country great, how it’s a melting pot of different cultures, and everyone who lives here can achieve their dreams with hard work. This tells me that we always have hope.

– Spencer Taylor (Student)