ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND, NOV. 22 -- Thousands of Catholics and Protestants joined with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Enniskillen today to complete a war memorial service that was devastated two weeks ago by an IRA bomb.
Thatcher flew in unannounced, for security reasons, and stood in the rain without an umbrella, remembering the dead of two world wars and the 11 Protestant civilians who were killed as they waited on Nov. 8 for the original memorial service to begin.
Today's ceremony was organized as an act of solidarity among the 13,000 people of this town near the border of the Irish Republic, and as a show of peaceful defiance against Irish Republican Army violence.
But today's event took on an ecumenical flavor, reflecting the revulsion felt throughout the island over the bombing.
"Out of the rubble came the sign of hope," the Most Rev. Robin Eames, primate of the Anglican Church of Ireland, said in a sermon urging Northern Ireland's Catholics and Protestants to bury their feud and unite against terrorism.
Thatcher laid a wreath at the foot of a statue depicting a soldier of the much-decorated British Army unit of Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers. She wore a red poppy, the symbol of war dead, in the lapel of her black suit.
In one section of St. Macartan's Cathedral sat the families of the bereaved, among them Gordon Wilson. Wilson, whose 20-year-old daughter, Marie, clutched his hand as she died, has said he bears no grudge against those who planted the bomb that killed his daughter.
"The words of astounding compassion from those who could have been forgiven for words of anger, the wave of human sympathy that has swept across these islands -- such have spoken so much louder than the bomb or bullet," Eames said.