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THE WORLD TRADE CENTER TRAGEDY: A report from Plymouth, England

Jaqui White forwards a letter from a sailor aboard the American warship "Winston Churchill", whose crew had in Plymouth become friendly with that of the German warship "Lutjens" next to it.. The two ships left Plymouth after the World Trade Center tragedy. The letter says:

Now at sea the "Lutjens" called over on bridge-to-bridge, requesting to pass us close up on our port side, to say goodbye. We prepared to render them honors on the bridgewing, and the Captain told the crew to come topside to wish them farewell. As they were making their approach, our Conning Officer announced through her binoculars that they were flying an American flag. As they came even closer, we saw that it was flying at half-mast. The bridgewing was crowded with people as the Boatswain's Mate blew two whistles-- Attention to Port-- the ship came up alongside and we saw that the entire crew of the German ship were manning the rails, in their dress blues. They had made up a sign that was displayed on the side that read "We Stand By You".

Needless to say there was not a dry eye on the bridge as they stayed alongside us for a few minutes and we cut our salutes. It was probably the most powerful thing I have seen in my entire life and more than a few of us fought to retain our composure. It was a beautiful day outside today.

My comment: This recalls my experience when I was evacuated from Spain during the Civil War on "HMS Devonshire". Warships from many nations were lined up in the bay of Valencia. As we sailed past, the bands of each warship played its national anthem. All of us were aware that we were leaving a tragedy which dwarfed even that of the World Trade Center. A million people died, amid horrible suffering, but there was no television and the world merely read about it. Now the web has drawn the whole world together emotionally. The fellowship manifest in the letter quoted shows how good can come from evil.

Ronald Hilton - 9/23/01