During the 70's all humanity was lost in the Bogside of Derry. Could you imagine walking out of your door in the morning to catch the bus and not knowing if you're going to make it because there are armed soldiers waiting to chase you down if you look at them wrong? Could you imagine not being able to go get food because there are military personnel blocking off the shopping center? The British Protestants were trying to shut down the Irish Catholics, force them to give up, but, in typical Irish fashion, the Catholics refused to give up.
The Bogside artists don't paint their murals to create hate, or upset people, they create their art to commemorate their friends and family who died. Our tour guide had many personal stories of people who died during the Troubles. One story was of one of his friends. When they were just young kids his friend got blown up in his childhood home backyard. He said "I actually remember putting pieces of his body in the garbage can after his body was taken away." Everyone here in Derry knows someone who died during the troubles. The Bogside artists go by this motto, "we don't paint these for ourselves, we paint for the people."
After we had our tour with the Bogside artist, we gained a whole new perspective on the Troubles. We went on a tour with the Protestant Apprentice Boys. The Apprentice Boys were originally 13 apprentices from various backgrounds in Derry who were sent to close the gates to Derry, a walled city. Now they are a group of protestant males who enforce that the protestant culture is remembered and honored. The Apprentice Boys lead marches where they burn the effigy of one of the traitors and remember the closing of the gates.
After those two intense tours, we decompressed in the Derry Cemetery. Gabby, Molly and I spent a while walking through the section blocked off for infants. Some of these infants weren't even given names. On still born babies headstones it read "born asleep". Other headstones read "we will meet you at the gates of Heaven". To see these memorials of infants, lives that haven't even got started broke my heart. No one deserves to die, but especially such an innocent life of a baby. And yet again, just like every other cemetery even when surrounded by death, an unsettling matter, we found ourselves calm and at peace, able to reflect on life as a beautiful thing, and honor the dead.
Northern Ireland is so separated and sad, and so much of it comes down to religion. However, no matter what religion, love shines through here and a sense of unity and community is forever existent.