Sometimes things that seem merely symbolic at face value have a deeper significance. Honorary citizenship, just like an honorary degree, can be awarded for any number of reasons: a groundbreaking accomplishment in a given field, a feat of great physical strength, a dedication to human rights.
But for singer Ariana Grande, who may be named an honorary citizen of the city of Manchester, England, this distinction would go far beyond its symbolic title, recognizing her courage in the face of real-time violence and destruction.
In one month, the Manchester City Council will vote on a proposal that would make Grande the first-ever honorary Mancunian.
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The story of Grande’s bravery goes back to several weeks ago.
Grande was finishing up a performance in Manchester on May 22, when an explosion rang out throughout the stadium, which was packed with many women and young children. In the end, 22 people were killed and dozens more were injured.
Rather than cower in the face of hate, the singer channeled her emotions into a concert in that same city less than two weeks after the attack.
The benefit concert brought together numerous world class musicians, including Katy Perry, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Miley Cyrus, John Legend, and, of course, Grande herself, and raised more than $3 million for the victims of the attack.
Grande’s emotional concert was one of many ways people around the world stood up for Manchester in the wake of the attack.
“We've all had cause to be incredibly proud of Manchester and the resilient and compassionate way in which the city, and all those associated with it, have responded to the terrible events of 22 May, with love and courage rather than hatred and fear,” Manchester Council leader Sir Richard Leese said.
Renee Rachel Black, right, is comforted by Sadiq Patel in front of flower tributes at Albert Square central Manchester, England, Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
Ariana Grande, he said, “exemplified this response.”
Manchester has never named an honorary citizen before, and if the proposal is approved by the Manchester City council, she would become the first ever.
“I think many people would already consider her an honorary Mancunian and we would be delighted, if the council approves the proposal, to make it official,” Leese added.
The proposal to create a framework for recognizing “outstanding contributions” to the city, the BBC reported, will come to a vote on July 10.
In the hearts and minds of Mancurians, however, Grande’s courage has already left an indelible mark.