Living history

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Northern Ireland,
Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today I met a man named John Kelly and he made me cry.

John Kelly lives in Londonderry or 'Derry' as it is more often called. He has silver hair, kind blue eyes and a lilting Irish brogue. My guess is that he is about 60 years of age. 

John Kelly had a brother named Michael Kelly who died when he was only 17 years of age. The date of his death was Sunday, 30 January 1972. John Kelly showed me the exact spot where he watched Michael die, gunned down in the civil rights protest march that turned into 'Bloody Sunday'. I stood on that spot and I cried.

In June last year, John Kelly celebrated. After many years of requesting a proper inquiry into the events of 'Bloody Sunday' and the deaths of innocent citizens, including Michael Kelly, a second inquest was undertaken. Twelve years and a 5,000 page report later, John Kelly's brother and the other victims were exonerated. John Kelly showed me the report, stacked next to the 15 page pamphlet that constitutes the original inquest, which took only a few weeks, and I cried.

Today I experienced living history.

John Kelly lived that dreadful moment in history. John Kelly lived its aftermath. And John Kelly lives its future - a future of peace that he knows can only come about by understanding the events of the past so that they are not repeated. 

John Kelly is a reminded that our history shapes us but it does not have to define us.

Thank you John Kelly. It was a privilege to meet you.

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