Paris Under Fire – State of Emergency

8xvDxBJA_normalYesterday evening, we did not watch TV…
We woke this morning to the alarming headlines: Paris Under Fire, President Holland Declared State of Emergency. In the deadliest attack since WWII, over 120 people were slain simultaneously during terrorist attacks at 6 different locations in Paris. Like most people our first reaction was disbelief, then horror, then concern for the safety of our family and friends living in Paris.

We have personal ties to Paris, a place we called home for over a decade during the 80s. Our children were born in the City of Lights. Our French family members still reside there, as do old friends. Terrorists tarnished the image of gay Paris when they gunned down young and ordinary people on a leisurely Friday evening dining at local cafes, listening to a rock concert and watching a football match.

Stunned as we watched the newsreel unfold, I insisted, “Call him.”

One of my husband’s best friends and family live within a stone’s throw of the targeted local restaurants, Little Cambodian, La Belle Equipe, and Carillon and Casa Nostra cafés and the Bataclan, the celebrated concert hall where the greatest number of victims were methodically slaughtered among the 1500 spectators of an American rock band performance.

When our friend answered the phone, we both breathed a sigh of relief; his apartment was situated in the center of the deadliest attack on French soil.

“My wife and I have breakfast every weekend at the Bataclan cafe,” he told my husband.

During the night of terror, gunshots and sirens flared outside their apartment, a night of despair knowing their 3 daughters were out in town, unable to get home until early hours of the morning.

The attack was systematic and precisely executed. The greatest massacre occurred in the Marais, a trendy district in 11th Arrondissement. It is traditionally a Jewish area: our friend is of Jewish descent. It might not be a coincidence that the Marais was targeted.

When the revelers tried to escape the concert hall out the back door into the alley, a man armed with a Kalashnikov was waiting to gun them down. Video footage shows other young people hanging for the windows in attempts to flee.

Within the hour other kamikazes attacked outside the Stade de Paris in St.Denis, a stadium packed with 80,000 football fans watching France against Germany. Luckily that assailants were unable to enter the arena or the death toll would be far worse.

Waves of sadness wash over us, making our hearts heavy and limbs weak. As in the aftermath of 9/11, we are reminded it no longer matters if it is an American trade center, a French concert hall, a Russian plane, or an Egyptian resort, all of us who value democracy including peaceful Muslims are at risk.

Our initial reaction of concern for the safety of our immediate family and friends offers no relief in knowing they are okay, instead a free-floating anxiety, unnerving impotence and imperceptible grief reigns.

A noxious fear permeates our souls. Our only certitude is knowing that regardless of our nationality, race or religion, we are all vulnerable in the age of terror. Though we may not be related by blood nor share the same language and culture, we are united by our respect for freedom and democracy.

Today our beautiful City of Lights is plunged in darkness. Liberty, equality, fraternity must prevail.

Posted in relationships, social view.

33 Comments

  1. You have been in our thoughts and prayers as we learn more details of this horrendous event. I’m so thankful you could reach your friend to assure yourselves that his family is all right. By reaching out you also assured them that they are not alone. The world grieves this assault. We grieve the loss of loved ones and those we would never know. We grieve the death of a life we once knew,

    • Thank you, Amy, for reaching out to us. As you so well put it, in addition to grieving for the French and their families, we are mourning for the loss of a way of life we once knew where people could circulate freely in our communities without fear.

  2. “Waves of sadness wash over us, making our hearts heavy and limbs weak.” Yes. This feels like 9/11 all over again. My deepest condolences to the French people.

    • Lynne as the horrific events unfolded on my TV screen, I felt just like you said, 9/11 all over again. Thank you for reaching out to us in this time of great sorrow.

  3. I was thinking of you and your family when I heard this yesterday. Beautifully written, Pat. We are all sad. I am glad to hear your family and friends were all safe.

  4. This is a horrible, sadist act of malicious intent to harm innocent people! Sending prayers of condolences to Paris victims and families.

  5. We have been thinking of you and of Paris, too. Thanks for the added info; I hadn’t heard about the Marais. Souhaits pour la paix, a Paris et partout dans le monde.

    • Merci beaucoup d’avoir pensé à nous en cette difficile période.
      Fluctuat nec mergitur est la devise de Paris, et elle s’appliquera ici totalement !

  6. I appreciate this today. My daughter is in France until May as part of the TAPIF program (Teaching Assistant Program in France) – it’s a joint effort between the French and U.S. governments. Fortunately, she’s located two hours north of Paris and is safe. She seems to be handling it well, which is good. Understands it is a terrible thing, but not ready to hop on the first place ride home. It is frightening, however, that we live in a time where these attacks occur all too frequently.

    • Pam, I am so glad to hear that your daughter is safe and not feeling overwhelmed by the tragic turn of events. I hope that she enjoys her program and all the good things that France has to offer especially a generous spirit. Thank you for reaching out to us.

  7. Such a terrible scene. So sad for the whole world. So difficult to understand how there can be such hate in their souls. So happy to here your dear friends are safe. As a parent who had a child who studied abroad and visited this beautiful city twice, I can’t imagine how terrified American (& other countries) parents are waiting for news of their previous children. God bless us all.

    • Thank you for your concern Marilyn. As a parent you can understand the anguish families are going through. Tragically the youth seemed to be targeted. So many lives cut short too soon. So sad.

  8. Pat, you have captured the depth of sadness and vulnerability we all feel but can’t seem to put into words. It’s beyond words. A collective grief ripples throughout the world today as it has with 911 and all the other horrific attacks. The assault on Paris is an assault on each and every one of us. As President Obama said, it is an assault on humanity. My deepest sympathies go out to the French people.

    • Kathy I feel your hugs and it gives me strength. As you so poignantly expressed it, “a collective grief ripples throughout the world today.” Together we must stand strong in solidarity.

  9. I am very moved by your post. I also was lucky enough to live in Paris, although only for a short time. The people I knew there no longer live in the City, but I went back in 2009, and was as charmed and warmed as ever. I am so glad your friend is safe. So many people will be grieving.

  10. This is a global tragedy, that highlights other atrocities around the world that we rarely hear about as they are not newsworthy. Such a beautiful world, that is tainted by evil and misinterpretation of religion by extremists. My heart is heavy this weekend, but your beautiful words always comfort me 🙂 Glad your Paris loved ones are OK… love Rach xxx

    • Rach, thanks for your long distance hugs. Though atrocities and evil surround us, we must remain strong together. I appreciate your words and fraternity as we face another senseless tragedy. United we stand.xxxx

  11. Today, we are all Frenchmen! All lovers of Liberty stand together! God Bless us!!

  12. Pat, you have so eloquently expressed what we are all feeling in the wake of these horrific events. We join you and our French brothers and sisters in grieving the attacks on what we hold so dear – freedom, liberty and democracy. This has really hit me close to home as it is such a vivid reminder of what we in the Greater Boston area suffered through with the Marathon bombings not so long ago. So glad you and your friends are all safe.

    • Thank you for your words and your uplifting phone call. Having endured the marathon bombings, you understand the shattered lives, and our sense of safety in taking part in everyday activities. I still remember when you came rushing over and told me turn on the TV and then we watched in the horrors of 9/11 unfold.

  13. Everyone feels a little more vulnerable…much sadder…our world needs healing.

  14. Pat, this is beautifully written! We all feel sadness over this senseless violence, and our hearts go out to the French people. Yes, it’s very much like 9/11 again. We try to wrap our heads around it, but some things are beyond explanation or reason. And when we feel like this, perhaps then we need to fall to our knees?? Glad you and yours are safe — you have a unique perspective, you know, in having lived in that lovely city!

    • Thanks, Debbie. Over here we seem to be wrapped in waves of sadness much like after 9/11. There is also that free floating anxiety in knowing our world will never be safe. I am on my knees again.

  15. Beautiful piece, Pat. And thank God all are safe. Thinking of you and so many others dealing with so much.

  16. The world weeps for the loss of innocent lives in the massacres. So senseless, so terrifying. We have spent much time in the Marais. My daughter spent her junior year in Paris and went to school in the Marais. So, so sad that our world has become such a deadly place. Sending strength to you and your family, Pat.

  17. Pingback: Terrorism and Refugee Crisis Separate Issues | X-pat Files From Overseas

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