“She is tossed by the waves but does not sink.”
This is Paris’s motto translated from the Latin verse found on its coat of arms. After Nov. 13th’s attacks, the historic verse is now more relatable than ever. Paris has been the target for multiple terrorist attacks in the past decade. The most recent has been the most devastating, but the Parisians refuse to sink.
Veronique Walters, an adjunct lecturer in French, first heard the news of the attacks while driving. She immediately texted her sister, who lives in Paris, to see if she and her friends were OK. No response.
Walters began to worry and called her sister. She picked up the phone. It turns out she had not even heard the news of the bombings. Walters’s sister had friends over, and though some of them lived near the sites that were bombed, they still rushed to return home.
Parisian officials asked civilians to not go out in the streets. They were advised to stay home and not visit the cafes, but the Parisians would not be deterred. They wanted to place flowers and candles in memory. Most of France listened. Most of France stayed home. But not Parisians.
“There is Paris, and then there is France,” Walters says. Parisians live their life how they chose. They make the most of it.
After the initial shock, Walters said she felt disconnected from her French roots. It is hard to cope with the destruction of a beautiful city and the inability to help from across the ocean. Walter’s is not alone in her sorrow.
People across the globe are struggling appropriately convey their feelings. No matter what people do to show condolences, someone is still angry. I asked Walters how she and other Parisians felt about the flag filter on Facebook. She said it is heart warming to see people showing their support. Even though they can’t be in France to grieve, they wish to show they care. Walters, along with many others, are disappointed Facebook hasn’t offered a filter for Lebanon but by raising awareness hopefully Facebook will make the addition.
“These people were out to have fun and enjoy life,” Walters says. Paris is about enjoying life and having fun. Paris is alive. Nothing will change that. “We are not going to show we are scared,” says Walters says. Showing fear and hate is what the terrorists want and they won’t give them that.