As they lowered them down
I spent the day today at the burial of 5 of the 57 in West Laurel Hill Cemeterey in Bala Cynwyd. We had a wonderful lunch among friends, caught up with old ones, met new ones. The real hero’s of Duffy’s Cut were all there, the people who have chased these lads for 10 years. The folks who cared enough to keep digging, to keep talking, to keep telling the story when there was little hope, when Duffy’s Cut was little more than urban legend. The Bill Watsons, the Matt Pattersons the Tim Bechtels, the wonderful, relentless students of Immaculata.
As I watched Bill and Frank play there pipes, as I talked to the students and the ex students, as I met the fine people of the Donegal Soceity I started to understand what they have all gone through to get to this point. To get to this wonderful moment where 5 forgotten immigrants shall never be forgotten again. To get to this wonderful point where 180 years of coverups are starting to be uncovered. To get to this wonderful point where 5 of 57 can finally rest peacefully.
So I entered the church and said my prayer that the missing 50 will soon be found and reunited with their comrades. I thanked these folk for their sacrifice that allows me to be Irish American, proud of the country I have come from and excited about the one I am now a part of. As I waited for the procession to leave I stared at the flags of Ireland being proudly held, I looked at the Stars and Stripes fly high, I watched as the press got set up and I realised that these men have left their mark. Although their story started out as one of hate it shall not finish as so, although their story started out as one of voilence and betrayel it will not end as so. These men will stand for justice, they will be a symbol of those who refuse to lay low in the face of injustice, they will be a symbol of an immigrant race who fought through incredible hardships to make our country and our world better.
As the coffins were carried into place, as the anthems were sung with every hair on my neck standing, as Bill Watson spoke so elegantly, catching himself as he talked about a lost friend, I know these men. They are every man who has ever stepped on a boat or plane, they are every man who has stood up for what is right, they are every man who was treated as an inferior and they speak loudly that we are all equal, we are all one and we all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
There was one moment in particular that spoke louder to me that the others and that was when the song of farewell was sang and with it the wind blew up like a chorus of 57. The microphone in and out all day was perfect for their song. And the wind sung out there are 50 more of us to find, our story needs to be told and our story shall be one of beauty, hope and life.