I wonder how many people reading this newspaper this morning are aged 28? Or even younger?

Quite a few, I would imagine.

For the rest of us, is it not a sobering thought that this whole generation of people was born after the awful event of the Remembrance Sunday bombing in Enniskillen which took place on the 8th of November, 1987.

As it happens, Remembrance Sunday this year will also take place on 8th November. It’s incredible for me to think that this Sunday morning it will be 28 years since I dashed to Belmore Street to cover the aftermath of a morning which changed many lives for ever. In particular, the relatives of the 11 people who perished that day as they stood solemnly waiting for an act of remembrance. Another victim, Ronnie Hill, died after lying in a coma for some years.

A further 63 were injured, some grievously, and as well as them many who were there, and many who knew them will always think of how life was different in the 28 years since.

Because Enniskillen is my home town, because I was there that morning and because I knew the people who died, it is a day that is etched deep in my consciousness.

Similarly, another date in November six years earlier is one I’ll never forget; I’ve written before that in 1982 I was in town socialising when I heard an explosion and followed my journalistic instincts to rush to the scene. And found to my horror that a lovely friend around my age, Helen Woodhouse had been killed when taking a lift home from the Lakeland Forum with a policeman Gary Ewing.

The month of November has been described as a month of darkness; indeed some churches regard it as a month to remember the dead, and I certainly cannot remember darker times than in that month in 1982 and 1987.

Not that death through bloody violence was limited to any time of the year. I am not sure why I remember it especially more than others, but the summer of 1979 sticks clearly in my mind when I went to the scene of a bombing near Rosslea and saw a body of a young woman covered in a white sheet. Sylvia Crowe, who worked with the Christian evangelical Faith Mission, was standing at a bus stop when a bomb aimed at a UDR patrol was detonated.

I mention the three tragedies above, not quite at random because I remember them clearly still; but, of course, there were many, many more. I began my career as a journalist in 1973 and over the years saw many sights which I did not wish to see. I do not wish to be insensitive, but the phrase a man “lying in a pool of blood” is not a euphemism or a description of a film.

Journalists like me didn’t see the half of it, though. Imagine all those who worked in the front line and what they’ve had to contend with.

Over almost three decades of the Troubles – and how inadequate a description is that – more than three and a half thousand people lost their lives violently. People from all backgrounds and all walks of life were taken, and from all political and religious sections. It was truly a “dirty war”. Much has

been said and written about our past, and it tends to become controversial when it enters the political arena, especially the idea of a hierarchy of victims.

Despite seeing violence close up, what sticks in my mind is the contact with bereaved families afterwards, and I found the pain of bereavement was no respecter of boundaries. The loss of a loved one hurts deeply, whoever or whatever they were.

Quite often, my involvement in a tragedy ended when I wrote the “story”; perhaps not quite ended, as there is no doubt that it had an effect on me, and indeed still probably does. But to a greater extent, my life moved on. Imagine those most closely affected, many of whom are still living with the trauma today.

This week-end, Enniskillen reminds me of all those who died throughout the years; they were really awful times. It was like a world spinning out of control, and as the years passed and the violence got worse, there were times when you thought it could only get worse still.

I read somewhere recently that every generation thinks it will be the last, such is the angst they feel about the world’s problems of violence, famine, disease and all the pressures of life.

Was there a point that we thought the Troubles would never end?

But, thankfully, it did end. Some may well argue that there isn’t peace; and indeed there are those with a blood lust who will not accept the new dispensation. But as I look back this week, one would have to say that things are so much better than they were. The example of reconciliation in Enniskillen, and the way two communities came together is worth recalling this week.

On anniversaries like this, it’s appropriate to remember all those who died. And to remind ourselves of how low we can go; peace is a wonderful thing and however fragile it is, we should not crush it.

It’s OK to have differences, including cultural and political; and it’s OK to express our differences robustly.

What isn’t OK, is to risk going back to the depths of despair of the past.