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Thursday, June 22, 2017

“Hold My Crown”

Revealing how it would defeat the deadly scourge that has plagued it for so long, the West unveiled its secret weapon against terrorism this week: a 91-year-old woman dressed in blue.

At the start of WWII, King George V and Queen Elizabeth I sent their daughters, Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret to sanctuary at Windsor Castle, 30 miles from London. Princess Elizabeth, 13 at the time, did not want to go but obviously had no say in the matter. When the Nazis began their daily bombardment of London during the Blitz, the king and queen refused to flee London, despite Buckingham Palace being hit on nine occasions. Many said London had become too dangerous for them, but they would not leave. As the bombs fell all around them, they chose to remain and stand with their people. It was a terrifying time to be a civilian living in London, never knowing when the next air raid siren might sound or when a bomb would explode nearby. But the populace responded to the terror as did their royal leaders and refused to give in to terror or those who perpetrated it upon them.

At the height of the war, in 1942, Princess Elizabeth wanted to volunteer as a nurse in bombed-out areas of London, but the king forbade her because he thought it too dangerous. So instead, the determined 16-year-old signed up at a labor exchange and learned to drive and repair trucks for the war effort. The future queen of England became a mechanic alongside other girls her age to fight against the Nazi terror.

So her actions this week, 75 years later, come as no surprise. When a fire destroyed a high-rise apartment building in London on June 14, killing 79 residents and injuring countless more, it recalled scenes of buildings destroyed and people killed in that same city during the Blitz. But this time, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May declined to visit the site to meet with victims and survivors. Cabinet member Tobias Ellwood explained her decision was based on “security concerns” for the prime minister’s personal safety. Days later, 91-year-old Queen Elizabeth II and her grandson Prince William showed up at the scene of the Grenfell Tower fire and met with victims, survivors, and aid workers. As Adam@thegaymeradam so succinctly summed it up on Twitter:

Theresa May : “I couldn't speak to residents of Grenfell Tower because of security concerns”
The Queen : “Hold my crown…

The once plucky princess showed her grandson, her nation, and the world how it’s done. Leaders must lead by example. They cannot lead from behind. They cannot allow themselves to be paralyzed by fear, no matter how valid the threat may be. At 91, Queen Elizabeth II showed the same intrepid spirit she did at 16. It is that spirit the terrorists wish to break. The goal of terrorism is not to kill people. The violence and death resulting from terrorism are a means to an end. The goal of terrorists is to instill fear and terror. When we give in to that fear; and when we change our behavior, our laws, or the very nature of our free society, then we are conceding victory to the terrorists.

The terrorists' goal is to terrorize us. The way to defeat terrorists is by not letting them achieve their goal. When a nation’s leader cowers in the face of potential danger, the terrorists have won. But when a 91-year-old woman displays the audacity to go boldly where she is needed by her nation without any regard to the ever-present threat of terrorism, she chalks up a victory against it. You can hear the air hissing out of the balloon. The terrorists’ real weapons aren’t bombs and bullets; they are fear and terror. Deprive them of that and they are defeated. They no longer have a raison d'être to exist, or to kill or maim, if doing so will not achieve the desired result of a terrified public and leadership.

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