Friday, April 17, 2009

Remembering the Belfast Blitz

Last night in Belfast, a new war memorial was being dedicated. But rather than commemorating the sacrifice of soldiers, it remembers innocent civilians living in their own homes. They never went to war, but the war came to them.

The Second World War is famous for the air raids on both sides, with films like Dambusters celebrating the ingenuity of the British bouncing bombs. Yet the war came to the UK, with incendiary devices and bombs dropped from the skies on the main cities involved in the war effort. Churches, factories, and homes were all destroyed. Over 1000 people died in Belfast alone. Until now there was no memorial, but this has been set right.

On a family level, my grandmother can still remember the Dillon children coming to live with them in their house in the country, those evacuees from Belfast. Behind the fatalities there must have been countless others traumatized by the sudden separation from family, especially at such a young age.

All of which makes me wonder what the impact is today in the places of conflict, where air raids / mortars / long range weapons are used. What is the impact in Afghanistan when innocent people suffer, or as soon may be the case, Pakistan. Yes, it's right that we seek to prevent Al-Qaeda from wreaking havoc and terror across the world, but at what cost to people going about their business in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

It is right and proper to recall the loss of life in Belfast and other cities in the UK, but let's not stop there, in our own community. Let's also recall the ongoing suffering of others caught up in war through no fault of their own.

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