On 22nd May 2017, thousands of people went to an Arianda Grande concert in Manchester, UK. For a few hours, they had a typically brilliant time. Then all Hell broke loose, and 22 people never made it home again.
The Manchester bombings were a truly tragic event, one of the last big terrorist attacks that had become almost commonplace in the few years previously. Whilst we all sit here in lockdown and understandably miss the gigs that were postponed, just imagine gong to a concert and not making it out alive. Gigs are places of life, of freedom, of hope and joy. All that was taken away in a single second of one man's insanity.
The victims of this act extend far beyond those whose sadly lost their lives. Let's remember the friends and families who would have been torn apart from the losses of their loves ones. Let's remember the thousands who attended the gig and who did make it out - they have to live with the memory of this event, a memory that should have been happy, but is now anything but.
Let's also remember Ariana Grande herself. She lost more than a few fans that night. She went to Manchester to perform, to entertain, to have fun and spread love. She was met with a terrorist attack. It's difficult to imagine what that would do to your mental state, when you arrive safely back at your hotel room that night. It must have been beyond horrible.
But finally, let's remember those who woke up that morning, went to work, went to school, saw friends and family and likely spoke all day about where they were going that night. Those who couldn't wait to go back to work or school the next day and tell their friends how brilliant a night they'd had. Those who didn't attend the gig itself, but went to pick up a friend or family member to bring them home. Those who had no idea what their fate was to be that night, that they would never live to tell those tales. Those who went to a concert, and died.
There were 22 of them, but they were more than just a number, a statistic. They were human beings, and we are going to name all of them right here, right now, because they deserve better than to be just one of a larger stat. They deserve to be remembered as people.
Megan Hurley (15)
Elaine McIver (43)
Philip Tron (32)
Courtney Boyle (19)
Wendy Fawell (50)
Eilidh Macleod (14)
Chloe Rutherford (17) Liam Curry (19)
Sorrell Leczkowski (14)
Saffie Rose Roussos (8) Oliver Campbell-Hardy (15)
Martyn Hett (29)
Nell Jones (14) Alison Howe (45) Lisa Lees (43)
Jane Tweedle-Taylor (51)
Kelly Brewster (32)
John Atkinson (28)
Georgina Callandar (18)
None of them made it home. They shall never be forgotten.
This is also another opportunity to say a huge, huge thank you to all the emergency services who attended the scene in double-quick time, to ensure that those who could be saved, were. Each and every one of the people in the emergency services that night is a hero, and should be treated as no less than such. There will also have been bystanders, members of the public, attendees of the concert trying to help and aid people in any way that they could, and they too are heroes.
And less than two weeks later, Grande returned to Manchester with the most-quickly planned benefit concert the world has possibly ever seen. She brought a ridiculous host of names with her, including Miley Cyrus, Take That, Pharrell Williams, Coldplay, Stevie Wonder (by video link) and hometown hero Liam Gallagher, among so many others. To show such bravery to return under a fortnight later, and somehow manage to co-organise it so quickly, is astonishing and simply has to be commended. Grande herself was already a hero to millions, but that was an act truly worthy of the title.
A tragedy in the truest sense of the word, the response was unforgettable and showed once again that, in the face of terror, we will not back down, we will not cave in. Those who died live on in our hearts, in Grande's music, and it certainly hasn't stopped her - she's released a new single with Lady Gaga just today. Terror doesn't work, it never will.
Three years on, the pain still lingers, but so does hope. Our condolences still go out to those affected, who will still feel the losses. May all those who lost their lives rest in peace.
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