Signs of Support for Paris
By Eli Gershon The Paris terror attacks of November 13th 2015 were a shocking and brutal reminder of the violent extremism which continues to plague the world today. Reportedly 130 people were killed and many more injured, neighborhoods were shut down, and “The City of Light” went dark. The tragedy came unexpectedly, yet both national and international responses came quickly. Mr. Fred Rogers, the famed children’s television personality, once said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Immediately following the attacks, Parisians flocked to hospitals in order to donate blood. Landmarks around the world displayed tributes in solidarity with France, and values were held strong internationally. Now is the time to look for the helpers, both inside and outside of France.
The morning after the attacks, with many questions regarding the attacks still unanswered, long lines were seen forming around hospitals across Paris. Though told to stay in their homes, Parisians ventured out en masse to donate blood. Large numbers of people waited in lines for hours for the chance to give blood. In fact, there were so many potential donors that some were turned away. French authorities urged donors to spread their donations out over the weeks following the attacks, as they could not handle or use all of the donations given the day after the attacks. Philippe Bierlin, the director of the French Blood Establishment said that hospitals have been “overwhelmed” by the donation offers. One potential donor, interviewed in line while waiting to give blood, said that donating blood was her method of “help[ing] in a concrete way” with the situation, and that “It’s the only way I [she] can think of to respond”. Similar events occurred in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11th in the United States. So much blood was given that hospitals were forced to dispose of some. Donated blood is only useful for up to 42 days, unless it is frozen, which is an expensive process usually reserved for rare blood types.
The following night, tributes in light appeared all over the world as Paris suddenly turned dark. On November 14th, the day following the attacks, the lights of the Eiffel Tower were turned off as a memorial to the (at the time) 120 people who had died. As the Eiffel Tower turned dark, cities around the world lit up with the colors of the French flag - blue, white, and red. The Sydney Opera House, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, the Burj al-Khalifa in Dubai, the London Eye ferris wheel, the Pyramids of Giza, Jerusalem’s Old City walls, the Tokyo Tower, and One World Trade Center in New York City all displayed blue, white, and red as a striking demonstration of solidarity. United States president Barack Obama said of the events, “This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share. We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need to respond. . . . France is our oldest ally.”
In in the aftermath of trouble, despair and disaster, there are always a myriad of responses. One thing, however, is certain - that there will always be helpers. Their work for the victims often goes unnoticed, yet deserves the utmost praise. Helpers have come out of the woodwork in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, and are likely to continue appearing. These noble people give blood and show moral support, among other acts of aid and solidarity. The noted French philosopher Albert Camus once said, “Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.” Paris is resilient, the French people are resilient, and the world is resilient. The international community will not respect ISIS or any terrorist group based on fear, especially as long as there are those willing to help the terrorized in the world.