Wednesday, May 27, 2020

the last book I ever read (Patrick Radden Keefe's Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, excerpt nine)

from Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe:

Father Reid ran to the men. One of them was clearly dead, but the other stirred; when Reid leaned close, he could hear the sound of breathing. Reid looked up frantically at the people standing around and asked if anybody knew how to resuscitate someone. Nobody responded. They just stood there, watching. Reid crouched over the body and placed his mouth on the soldier’s mouth, trying to breathe the life back into him. But eventually the breathing stopped, and someone said, “Father, that man is dead.”

Reid looked up, and as he did, a photographer standing some distance away took a picture that would become perhaps the most indelible image of the Troubles: a priest, clad in black, on his knees, ministering to a man who has just died, lying with his arms splayed, like Christ, on the ground before him. Reid looks directly at the camera, a witness to the horror, his own thin lips smeared dark with the dead man’s blood. Reid did not know if either of the soldiers was Catholic, but he anointed them both, as he had anointed the bodies of the slain mourners at Milltown Cemetery several days earlier, and delivered the last rites.

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