On the 17 May I will be attending the opening ceremony of the memorial for victims killed by terrorist acts outside the UK. This is a significant event in Staffordshire for my two sons and myself as we are one of many families who lost a loved one in the InAmenas terrorist atrocity in 2013. Sadly there have been many other senseless acts of terrorism before and after In Amenas. The memorial will reflect this.
People will have many different views on whether memorials are important and of value . Grief, after all , is largely a private event relevant for families and friends .People will question the cost of designing and creating sculptures / works of art for public memorials when there are so many other needs in society. There may be some truth in this, and people have a right to express their views. I do think this memorial is however very important . Acts of terrorism affect us all either directly because we have lost someone we know , or indirectly in the way we live , where we go and what we say or do. This memorial is symbolic of the countless many wonderful people who have been killed whilst they were going about their own everyday lives, who were British and who were killed abroad. It’s a recognition that they have been caught up in crimes by small groups of militants who fight against British values and way of life.
My husbands death ( and those of so many others) was a very public event. You can not imagine the trauma of being the family who are actually living through the media portrayal of such events. You watch as events unfold and somehow it is all so surreal , but it is happening to you. My heart goes out to every family who has since gone through the same thing. I don’t know them but I understand the horror, the grief and powerlessness in these moments. In my view Stephen died because of political and ideological point scoring – from a small band of militants who don’t understand love , hope and aspirations of society ( the desire in the main to live well together and respect personal ideologies). Utterly senseless and so very painful.
Through memorials we reflect on how people were affected by loss and pay tribute to those who fought in world wars as an example. I travel and observe ancient artefacts, memorials in effect that represent key people in societies past and a world littered by savage wars long gone . They remind us of our challenging past history and how things have changed for the better.
Thus the memorial “Still Water” is an opportunity for society to reflect on the present and past loss of life through acts of terror . For me it will serve as a reminder not only of Stephens untimely death but also of the many other families who have lost loved ones. It reminds me that I am not alone, my sons and Stephens parents, brother and sister are part of that reality . I will no doubt see others at the memorial there too over time . The sculptures will provide an opportunity to talk with others affected by loss. life is precious and short . In the words of Maya Angelou we can not un-live history but each of us can make the decision not to be reduced by the events that have befallen us. My hope then , is that in the forthcoming years generations will look upon “Still Water” has being representative of a period of time they have not had to live through. That in time the hatred of a small group of militants dissipates, that they see there is so much of life to embrace and they become more accepting of diversity. For now the least we can do as an individual is keep chipping away , playing our part for the good of others – and try to be that rainbow in someone else’s cloud by reaching out.