FRENCH SPIRIT

Organizing a photo shoot late November 2015 in front of the Eiffel Tower adorned with the colors of our flag, only a week after the attacks that hit our city. It seems frivolous and inappropriate.

Obviously…

Frivolous in the view of the immeasurable pain those who have lost dear ones are experiencing.

Frivolous in the view of of the unnamable damage inflicted upon our republican values, which, in the space of a few hours, were outrageously violated.

Frivolous in the view of the worries that wreck the heart of every Parisian mother, myself included, since I now have to track – against all my personal convictions – my teen and forbid her from going to some places, or just answer my 5 year old’s questions about whether people really died and if the badies have been arrested.

How did we get to the point of imposing such measures of precaution to a 16 year old, who should only have to worry about her exams, her friends, and her sentimental life? How did we get to the point where you have to answer such questions coming from a 5 year old?

An absolutely indignant affront in two acts: the dead, the trauma for all first, the inability to provide a secure environment for those you love, and especially your children second.

So why this firm desire, unstoppable, unquestionable to take pictures in front of our beautiful Iron Lady armed with our colors: blue, white, red?

Because I am French. Like all French, I am awfully proud and dauntless. I wished – like the unquantifiable number of people on the Esplanade du Trocadero that evening – to make the symbolic Parisian pride mine. Symbol of an outraged Paris, a broken Paris, a tormented Paris – to paraphrase the General de Gaulle – but a free Paris. A fearless Paris.

Because the only vital spark we – civilian population- are left with in these difficult times is that of remaining human and altruistic but tall, proud and ready to face adversity nonetheless.

I think it’s the same vital momentum that encouraged my dear teen to drop flowers of at the Flame of Liberty, Pont de l’Alma and to go Place de la République. An irrepressible need for communion but also an irrepressible need to remain standing and dignified.

So in fact, no. A photo shoot in front of the Iron Lady is not as frivolous as it seems. It’s my way of honoring everything it embodies, France, its values, its people. A people that stands firm and upright, sometimes a tad bold and boastful but above all courageous and dignified.

A way to say that we will not stop living. And in addition: we will make it known.

 

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