sunday bloody sunday

Am I skeptical? Yes. Am I cynical? Sadly, often times. Am I sentimental? Indeed. So sentimental in fact that when I heard British PMs David Cameron’s unequivocal apology for Bloody Sunday while driving home yesterday, I nearly had to pull over to take in the sheer magnitude of the moment.

January 30, 1972. What was I doing? Who knows. I was in grade school. Younger than my oldest child and older than my youngest child is now. Just because I don’t remember the day, doesn’t mean I don’t remember the moment. Because I do. Whether it was U2’s immortalization of the tragedy or Daniel Day Lewis’s portrayal of a hapless victim in In the Name of the Father, I remember. Years later, a trip to Ireland reminded me yet again. Just the mention of “The Troubles” brings a crowd of hyper excited tourists on a pub crawl or a literary tour to deafening silence.

That particular trip was fascinating. A society of well informed, well educated youth who carried the suffering of their family and heritage with thoughtfulness and respect. “You’ll hear many things” they told us on the tour at Trinity College in Dublin, “but we’ll tell you the real truth”. How brutal it was. And so began my theory that the Irish are to Europe what the Quebecers are to North America. Neither of us are born with a natural love for the British. Plains of Abraham, 1759. Ring a bell? And 250 years later, it’s still a constant cultural echo for Quebecers like myself: exploitation and assimilation. Not that I agree. But that’s the truth I learned as a child in a Catholic French School Board. You don’t learn too much more past 1759 in history. At least I didn’t. English history courses in University were, well, both treason and revelation. But I digress.

I was born during the quiet revolution. And it’s no coincidence to me that I married a man who was not born near, or close to but on the exact day of the October Crisis where the FLQ threw a bomb of crisis into the mix whose shrapnel still damages today. Our bloody Sunday. But the roles are reversed. The FLQ committed the crime. We all suffered for it. And every time I cross the Pont Pierre Laporte in Quebec City, I’m sad for those days of total anarchy. Nobody should have to live that way. No matter where you live. No matter what you believe. No matter what you want. To quote the British PM, “what happened should never ever have happened”.

So that apology spoke to me. It reminded me that sometimes, as rare as it is, the losers do get to write history. And 38 years later, Amen for that.

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