The giant TV in the city center was broadcasting images from New York’s September 11 Memorial Service and it seemed to open a portal of understanding directly between Northern Ireland and the Unite States. As the images and messages passed from New York to Belfast, I couldn’t help but feel closer to my homeland and to its steadfast spirit. Throughout the Belfast September 11th Commemorative Event I was simultaneously in both of the countries that I loved, and the pain from the past reaching to the present united us all first in anguish and then in the powerful desire to look forward. This is where the people of the United States and the people of Northern Ireland are joined; they share a spirit of determined resilience despite the devastation of past events.
The Lord Mayer of Belfast, Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile, stated during his speech that “We are not strangers to the circumstances where a loved one leaves the house for work and never returns home alive again.” The “Troubles” was a thirty year nightmare established by doorstep executions, bombed out buildings, and guerilla warfare. The pain of losing loved ones on their home soil is a pain that the citizens of Northern Ireland fully understand and that remains fresh in their minds. However, their ability to look beyond the past towards a peaceful future in all that they do is what makes them truly powerful. The people of Belfast reached across a great physical divide to offer this understanding as a show of support through their words and their music. The Belfast Community Gospel Choir performed “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” and the song spoke volumes. It offered words of comfort during this difficult time, and a gesture of sympathy. The song “Something Inside So Strong” spoke directly about their past and the importance of moving forward with strength and courage. Bagpipers performed and showed honor and respect for the dead and the fallen through an ancient tradition. Through their words, their music, and their presence the people of Belfast reminded the citizens of America of the powerful connection between their countries and their lives.
My name is Kyle Inman, thanks for reading and stay tuned for future posts.