UPDATED: Britain stopped Tuesday to mark the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attack that left 22 people dead as they exited a joyful concert by singer Ariana Grande in the city of Manchester.
A nationwide minute of silence was observed at 2:30 p.m. local time, while a memorial service began half an hour earlier in Manchester Cathedral. “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge between them is love – the only survival, the only meaning,” said Rogers Govender, the dean of the cathedral, before the congregation launched into a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
The service was attended by municipal and national leaders – including Prime Minister Theresa May and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland – and clerics of different faiths. Prince William, second in line to the British throne, read a passage from the Bible. Outside the cathedral, hundreds of people watched the service on a giant screen, some of them sobbing quietly as photos of the 22 people who died were shown.
Grande sent her own greetings, tweeting: “I love you with all of me and am sending you all of the light and warmth I have to offer on this challenging day.” Her post included an emoji of a bee, the city emblem that became a symbol of unity and defiance after her tragedy-struck show.
The singer is beloved in Manchester for the response to the attack that she quickly organized, the One Love benefit concert held in the northern English city less than two weeks later. The benefit, which was broadcast live throughout the world, brought together survivors and others to hear performers such as Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Robbie Williams and Liam Gallagher.
Residents of Manchester and elsewhere paid tribute Tuesday to the victims, expressing support on social media or laying flowers in memory of those who died, many of whom were teenagers enjoying a night out. The youngest person killed in the blast was 8-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, whose father wants to organize another concert in aid of victims of other or future terrorist attacks.
“Losing your 8-year-old child has changed life forever. It’ll never be OK again,” Andrew Roussos told the BBC. “I want to celebrate my daughter. She was full of life. She loved music.”
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, tweeted: “Today we come together, we remember each of the 22 people whose lives were taken.” Hip-hop group PROSE has released “A City. United,” a single featuring the Manchester Survivors Choir.
Grande’s show at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, had just finished, and attendees were streaming toward the exits, when a bomber detonated a homemade device, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds more. The radical Islamic group ISIS claimed responsibility for the blast.
The attack sparked an outpouring of support for the victims and survivors. One young man who died in the arena, Martyn Hett, came to epitomize, for many, the exuberance and fun-loving spirit of the youthful concertgoers cut down by the bombing. The hashtag “#BeMoreMartyn” trended for days following the attack, and a stage play inspired by Hett, “#BeMoreMartyn: The Boy With the Deirdre Tattoo,” has just opened in Manchester.
Dan Hett posted a photo Tuesday of his brother and himself as children. He told the BBC that he had received “overwhelming” support over the past year and that well-wishers ranging from an “old lady in a supermarket to a six-foot biker” would stop and hug him.