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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

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We Americans living in Moscow have gotten used to being a bit of a punching bag. Whenever Russians don't like what our government is doing, we hear about it. When the United States bombed Kosovo, we avoided speaking English on the street for fear of provoking an attack, verbal or otherwise, and we often got an earful even from friends, and even if we thought the bombing was a bad idea too. Washington's arrogant we're-the-only-superpower-left attitude has not helped our popularity either in recent years.

So when hijackers used passenger planes last week to reduce New York's twin towers and thousands of people inside them to dust, the response from Russians -- friends, acquaintances, strangers -- was a pleasant surprise. Many of us have gotten phone calls from people we haven't spoken to in weeks asking if our famiies are safe and offering their condolences for what has happened to our country. We have been treated warmly by usually surly bureaucrats.

The outpouring of sympathy, from President Vladimir Putin to the people with tears in their eyes who brought flowers to the U.S. Embassy -- the same embassy that was splattered with paint bombs during the Kosovo bombing -- has touched not only the Americans in Moscow.

The Moscow Times has been flooded with letters from people across the United States wanting to thank the Russian people and their president for caring. We received 48 e-mailed letters on Thursday and Friday alone, and they have kept coming.

An unusual number of those who wrote described themselves as "ordinary Americans." Some were proud to have recently adopted a Russian child. One after another called Russia a "great nation."

Many wrote of a new brotherhood between Americans and Russians. "I have suddenly felt a kinship with the Russian people that I have not felt before and for that I am sorry," said Tim Quinlan of San Diego, California. There was much talk of being allies, of working together against terrorism.

"We thank you so much. And are filled with pride that we two peoples now can stand shoulder to shoulder to again vanquish a common foe," wrote Bruce Pitchford of Kansas City, Missouri.

"The missile defense issue can be worked out, the Balkan issue can be worked out. These issues are very trivial and should not be allowed to spoil the relationship we have now," said David Price of North Carolina.

We Americans who live here know it's not that easy, and the new spirit of cooperation already is showing signs of strain at the state level. But at a more personal level, the bond may prove more durable. We hope so.