Today, the day after the fatal terrorist attack in Paris, everywhere across the country of France, people stopped for a moment of silence at noon. Alexis and I were in the Carrefour when an announcement was made at 11:56 am, asking everyone to please stop and take a moment of silence. As noon came upon us, most people stopped in their tracks, the cashiers stopped their service and I even saw a few older men bow their heads. It was respectful except for the few Arab women in headdress who continued their conversations. I say that without hesitation. There is a rapid movement among the Arab world to overtake Europe, specifically France. This morning I read many articles about the concern of too many Middle Easterners in Europe, specifically France. I fear the France that I love will no longer be the same in 10 to 20 years. I read one article that expressed concern about the rise of French Jews emigrating to Israel in fear of the Muslim population in France. Even in Nîmes, there are neighborhoods where one is not to go if one is not Muslim. There are large communities in Paris, for instance, that the French police and government do not even enter because the Muslims have taken over. It is a sad but true reality. I do know that not all Muslims fall into this extremist category and for that I feel deep sorrow. Their lives, too, are forever being changed in how they are treated.
Aaron was at Sophie’s school at noon today to pick her up for lunch. I reminded him before I left the house that I was pretty sure something would be happening at noon at the school. I came home and he relayed this info to me.
“It was very touching. The Directeur (principle) and the Mairie (Mayor of Sanilhac) gathered all the children, teachers and parents together outside in the courtyard. The Directeur then asked everyone to form a large circle. Each took the persons hand next to them while a moment of silence passed. The Directeur then said a few heartfelt and tearful words followed by the Mairie giving a few words of encouragement. I wish I had had a recording device to show you the emotion, sadness, respect and concern that existed in that circle. It was unifying and very touching.”
The older boys were all able to participate in a moment of silence at their school. The students were dismissed from their classes a few minutes before noon and were asked to congregate in the courtyard of the school. There, the Principle, read off the names of the victims and said a few inspiring words and then during the moment of silence everyone in the courtyard raised their hands with pen in hand. Austin said he felt sorrowful and touched by this. He said every school in France, students were gathered at the noon hour to pay their respects. Tristan thought it was a cool experience except for the few Arab boys who were trying to whistle and cough during the Principles message. He said he was disappointed that they would do something like that. AJ said it was neat to see the Principle enter each classroom, stand before the students, say a few words and then hang up a Je suis Charlie sign on each chalkboard.
I am grateful our family has had this experience. And, I, by no means, say that to disrespect the tragic events of yesterday. It has caused my children to reflect upon issues that aren’t tangible in Utah. Aaron and I always have discussed world events with our children and this is a very impressionable experience for them. AJ and Austin were 4 and 1 when 9-11 happened. So, to have them feel like they are participating in French history (though it is a tragic part of history) is unforgettable!