Lost in Bombings, Diverse and Promising Lives
The New York Times features prominently a set of features on the people whose lives the Islamofascist bombers took in the bombing of the London subway.
They were mostly in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. They were mostly on their way to work. They were the daughter of an Anglican bishop, the son of a Nigerian oil executive, the immigrant mother of two teenagers. Some were Muslims. The names of the dead – Shahara Islam, Anthony Fatayi-Williams, Jamie Gordon, Ganze Gonoral, and so many more – reflect the diversity of their origins and the indiscriminate nature of the bombs that struck London a week and a half ago.
The death toll from the July 7 bombings – on three subway trains and on a No. 30 double-decker bus – stands at 55, including the bombers. The authorities have officially identified 47 of the dead.
Identification of the victims has lagged in most cases behind their families’ convictions that their loved ones are dead. Part of the problem is that British procedures are slow, and inquests must be held when deaths are unnatural or violent. The difficulties are compounded by the fact that many of the bodies were jumbled together and severely damaged in the explosions.
For friends and relatives, the agony of uncertainty has seemed almost as bad as the devastation of knowing. Many families have been left in an awkward limbo, knowing in their hearts that their lost relatives are dead, but unable to mourn properly.
One such relative was Marie Fatayi-Williams, whose son, Anthony, was still officially missing last Monday, four days after the bombing. Mrs. Fatayi-Williams stood in Upper Woburn Place, near the site of the No. 30 bus explosion, that day and gave a speech about him, saying that she had been “destroyed” by his certain death. He had not been heard from since 9:41 a.m. on July 7, she said, when he telephoned his office to say that the subway had been evacuated and that he would find another way to get to work. “How many mothers’ hearts must be maimed?” Mrs. Fatayi-Williams asked, in an anguished speech that became a striking symbol of the families’ grief.
Clint Eastwood’s character in “Unforgiven” observed that, “It’s a hell of a thing, killin’ a man. You take away all he’s got an’ all he’s ever gonna have.” It’s worth remembering every now and again that those murdered by terrorists are more than mere statistics or fodder for political debate.
There’s also a poignant collection of photographs: Photos: Victims and Their Relatives. The photograph of Anthony Fatayi-WilliamsÃ¢€™s mother, Marie, is taken from the collection.