Ma chere Angleterre
History has put you through so much.
You have withstood revolution and war. You have seen it all from century to century. There is no denying the fact that you have always pulled through.
I have never been to England, never stood upon its beaches or seen its rolling hills. I have never seen the English Channel or the Cliffs of Dover, never gotten to marvel at the majesty of Westminster Abbey in person. I am only roughly one quarter British – but I know exactly where my father’s father’s father was born. It’s not close to London, but you’ll forgive me if your country feels at least partially like a second home to which I’ve never been.
A Canadian teenager whose knowledge of your country was formed with the help of textbooks and documentaries cannot adequately describe the horror of this in words. Suffice it to say that I ache, despite being well aware that my aching will not close your wounds, nor will it undo the physical and emotional damage wrought upon you.
But I am not alone in aching for you. Canada aches for you. The world aches for you. We may have repatriated our constitution some twenty years ago but our connection to you will never die. We have never endured an attack of this magnitude on our own soil. We cannot imagine such pain accurately and yet we try because we know that, even though a country so strong and so resolute as England can and will triumph, we don’t want you to believe that you are alone in this – not for a second.
For the sake of historical accuracy, a replica of an 1800s-era British flag is flown on the grounds of Fort York in Toronto. Its location and various meteorological factors prevent it from being taken up on wind most of the time, but today our four strong winds picked up. Today, the flag of Great Britain flew triumphantly and majestically at the site of one of the old colony’s old forts.
Today I saw no less than 15 cars in downtown Toronto sport miniature English flags on their windows. I'm certain that the scene was replicated across the world. Our thoughts are with you. Our hearts are with you. The world is united in its support for you.
With the rest of the world, we weep when you weep. When you bravely put forth your best face in times of horror as you have, we admire and applaud your resolve.
Your empire might not be as large as it used to be, but your impact will never fade.
I keep telling myself that I'll go someday; after I graduate, most likely. Maybe. If time and other circumstances permit. I have always wanted to see it.
Now I feel like I have to. I have to stand on terra firma Britannica and remind myself that this place has withstood everything a nation can withstand.
Further to that, it always will.