07/18/05 — 'With love from me to you' - London bombings hit home

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'With love from me to you' - London bombings hit home

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 18, 2005 1:53 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Like any mother with a child living far away, Linda Greenwood worries about her daughter all the time.

Her daughter, Corey Gildener, lives near London, where she and her husband work.

But Mrs. Greenwood was spared the intense worry that would have resulted from learning about the deadly bus and subway bombings July 7 because her daughter called home early that morning to say she was all right.

"She called and told me that they were OK, they were safe and already at work," said Mrs. Greenwood, who is director of the career center at Mount Olive College.

Had she not received the 6:30 a.m. call, it would have been a long day. Her daughter and son-in-law take the train and bus to and from work every day.

She said she arrived at work to find "umpteen messages" awaiting her, all asking about her daughter.

"She was a bit shaken, but Corey is very adaptable."

Mrs. Gildener, 26, graduated from Eastern Wayne High School in 1996 as valedictorian. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, she took a job with Bank of America in Charlotte. After three years, she was chosen for a six-month stint in the bank's London office. She met her husband, Simon, a lawyer, and the two were married about a year ago. The couple now live in Wimbledon, taking various modes of travel to work in London each day.

As an investment banker, Mrs. Gildener said she works on a quasi-trading floor where there are numerous televisions. The morning of the bombing, she said, "everybody kind of tuned in.

"At first, everybody thought it was a power surge. Nobody quite knew what was going on for 30 or more minutes."

She said the reaction was rather subdued, people quietly waiting to hear what had happened.

"They were trying to wait until they could figure it all out as opposed to panicking," she said.

As minutes passed, she said, most made calls or e-mailed friends.

"It seemed like it was drawn out at the time," she said. "It wasn't too hard to find out information - e-mail, blackberries, everybody was pretty much on-line."

She said a co-worker called in earlier to say he was going to be late. No one thought anything about it initially because of the typical transportation glitches, until news of the bombing broke.

"Luckily he was above ground," she said. "We heard the news and called him and told him he needed to get out of there.

"He had heard; other people on the train had their mobiles."

Mrs. Gildener described the British public's reaction to the bombing as calm and businesslike.

"It wasn't like mass chaos," she said, and cited two possible reasons.

"Unfortunately, the British have had to deal with this for some time with the IRA in the past," she said. " Everybody from business people to police kind of have the standard response because they have been through this before.

"Secondly, it's really cultural. It really is true what they say - British people are very realistic. Everybody is reactive with the appropriate somberness - try to get the information of what's going on, digest it and move on, do what they can do to help."

Mrs. Greenwood said she expects to see her daughter at Christmas, when the couple expects to visit for the holiday.

British Professor

Eric Ling, professor of criminal justice at Mount Olive College, also has ties to Great Britain.

A native Brit, born near Binghamton, he came to the U.S. in 1986. His daughter still lives in Glasgow, Scotland, and frequently travels to London on business.

In May, Ling traveled to London with a group of students. He said the trip included a visit with the British Transport Police.

"One of the questions we asked about was terrorism," Ling said. "We talked a little about emergency preparedness."

He said he found it interesting that in light of world events, nothing was mentioned about being aware of suspicious bags or activity.

"The person briefing us was saying if we continually do that, say, "Be on your guard, be prepared, be worried,' then the terrorists have won," he said.

The British Transport Police are one of the agencies investigating the bombing. Ling says he is certain the police were not unprepared.

"They were expecting attacks for a long, long time," he said. He recalled living in Great Britain during the 1970s, when there were numerous IRA terrorist attacks throughout the country.

"Since that time, there have been plans in place to deal with these sorts of events," Ling said.

He said the British public does not let the attacks alter their lifestyle. People living in the U.S. may get the wrong impression from watching TV accounts of the bombing and aftermath, he said.

"The pictures suggest mayhem and panic, but the words suggest a stoic kind of resilience," he said. "Life there is not changing because of these events. Life is precious and life should go on despite this."

"The reports in London refer back to World War II, the bulldog spirit," he said. "There's something to that.

"I hear reports about folks in the underground - there was panic but also kindness. It's a mixed picture."

Ling said that police told members of his tour group that the best way to cope with terrorism is for agencies to cooperate and be well-trained.

"You can't prepare for the specific of the event, but you can make sure your resources are available in and in place," he said.

Ling's area of expertise is in juvenile justice and research, but he noted that the college has added a class focusing on homeland security and terrorism.

"They have changed the curriculum due to the concerns," he said.