By Sabrina Bartels – This past July, my husband and I took a little vacation out to Europe. We spent a perfect week in Paris eating baguettes, taking the metro, and posing for photos in front of historical monuments. As we boarded our flight for the next leg of our trip, Rob and I talked extensively about moving to Paris someday. We loved the sights and sounds of Paris, adored the language, and thought everyone there was so friendly and welcoming to us (and our attempts to speak French.) Never in our dreams for the future did we foresee Paris being torn asunder by the violence and horror that happened last Friday.
This shocked Rob and I for so many reasons. For us, Paris had been the city of love. It is a romantic spot for tourists and natives to fall in love, whether that is with each other or the culture. Even the Eiffel Tower has a sign near the top that claims it is “a great spot to kiss.” Paris is also a beautiful city, filled with old-style Gothic architecture and an immense history. Who would want to destroy this beauty and tranquility? We were also surprised that when we looked on our trusty travel map, three of the attacks took place less than a mile from where we had stayed in July.
The attack on Paris not only shook us, but also made us fear the future. If people could attack this beautiful, loving city, what would happen next?
But it’s not just adults who worry about this. Many of my eighth grade students have been posing questions about Paris and how the United States will respond. See, all of my students are too young to remember some major events in our history. Most of my students were born in 2001, so they have no memory of 9/11. They only vaguely remember bits and pieces about other attacks throughout the world. This is something that, I’m sure, many of them will remember.
It’s interesting how some of my students are processing the attack on Paris. A lot of my students wanted to know what they could do to help the Parisians. Ideas for food drives, donations, and writing letters of support came up. One of my students asked what would happen to the young children in Paris who lost their parents and said she wanted to go over and work with them. The outpouring of ideas and support were very touching to me, especially since so many of them wanted to give something when they themselves have very little.
Another important thing to note is that this situation only aggravated others who already have a traumatic past. I have students at my school who have parents, siblings, and other relatives in the military, many of whom had already done a tour or two in Iraq or Afghanistan. My students had been so excited when they had returned; now, some of them are worried that their loved ones will be sent overseas again. Some of our students from other countries are worried for their family’s safety, and fret about the world they left behind. It’s hard to say that “everything will be okay” when they are thousands of miles away from their relatives.
I invite everyone reading this to take a moment and pray. Or if you aren’t comfortable praying, just think for a moment. Keep the people of Paris in your minds and hearts, and hope that brighter times will come.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King Jr.