by Amber Luckie-Parks
I'm not sure how to even put my thoughts into words right now. I have spent the past 48 hours in awe. We had combatants from each side come and speak with us yesterday, now today we had a tour of the city. When we crossed over to the Bogside and stood where Bloody Sunday took place, it felt surreal. I stood in the street and remembered all the pictures and diagrams I have seen and studied over the past few years. I looked up the road and imagined the tank driving down the street, Father Daly waiving his white hanky. As I was attempting to picture everything in my head, I was yanked back into reality.
Our tour guide had said,"We knew the protest was illegal...Yeah we were breakin' the law but we never thought they would shoot us!" We had been told he was one of the protesters that day. But to stand face to face with someone and have them recall the events in the exact spot, I felt breathless. I guess I never thought I would be standing there on the exact spot and have someone point up the road showing us where he ran. "When I ran up there and saw Martin McGuiness and told him what was going on. You know in the first inquiry they tried to say Martin was down here. He wasn't I knew he wasn't 'cause I ran into him up there and he couldn't have been two places at once!" explained our guide. I look at the screen and reread this and the impact can't be explained or at least I lack the ability to convey it. He was so matter of fact. He wasn't explaining it to us like he was selling his position, there wasn't even a lot of emotion. It may have been his frankness that was so disarming, it is just what happened.
Maybe frankness has become a personality trait of the people from Derry. I say that because everyone we meet seems so open and willing to chat with us. I can honestly say that I have never encountered a community that has been this welcoming and friendly. I guess I am wondering if by living through the Troubles a byproduct may be a deeper appreciation of human connection and understanding.