Nearly 11 hours after a series of deadly bus and subway bombings in London, Tracey Hauver still hadn’t heard from her family who lives there.
The 27-year-old London native who lives in the District said she didn’t know whether her relatives were involved in the worst attack in London since World War II and if they were alright.
Yet, even in the agonizing moments of waiting to hear from home, Mrs. Hauver and her friend Suzanne Whitehead, 18, also from London, came to the British Embassy yesterday to reflect on the attacks that killed dozens and wounded hundreds early yesterday morning.
“I hope the people who are doing this will see, this will not stop peace efforts,” said Mrs. Hauver, who moved to the United States in December after marrying her husband, who is in the Air Force and stationed in Virginia.
Mrs. Hauver’s sentiments were echoed by scores of top government officials and local residents who stopped by the embassy in Northwest yesterday to pay their respects to Britain and sign a book of condolences.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and David Manning, Britain’s ambassador to the United States, were among the mourners. Each said that the terrorists picked the wrong nation to intimidate and that the United States would stand by the nation in the face of terror.
“We have an obligation to do everything we can to seek out the extremists.” Mr. Rumsfeld said, standing outside the embassy yesterday afternoon. “The task is to not let the extremists change the way we live.”
Within hours of the attacks, the sidewalk near the gates of the British Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue slowly became a gathering place for those who wanted to show solidarity.
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of the National Synagogue organized a prayer vigil yesterday morning. He said the service was an act of unity.
“We wanted to show the British people that they are not alone,” Mr. Herzfeld said. “An attack on any innocent person is an attack on every innocent person. … But by banding together with acts of unity, love, peace and prayer, we can [assuage] fears.”
Others laid bouquets of flowers, candles and posters along the sidewalk in front of the embassy. “Today we are all British” read a message on a poster.
At midafternoon, Joseph Conaty stopped by to pay his respects. He adorned the gate with British and American flags and stuck a Union Jack sticker on the poster.
Mr. Conaty was in London on September 11, 2001, and said he felt that he should do something for the victims there. “On September 11, they all did nice things for the U.S. so I felt I should do something for them. We stand by our friends.”
Meanwhile, Mary Clement, a self-proclaimed “full-time evangelist” from Silver Spring, paced outside the front gate while reading passages from the Bible and singing gospel songs.
“I’m here today on behalf of Britain, the Prime Minister, her Majesty the Queen and all of the citizens,” she said. “If a tragedy happens, I will come up [to the embassies]. It’s my responsibility to spread the Gospel and let them know that we care.”