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Memorial March for Paris in Minneapolis: Sad but important use of a gorgeous Sunday by Ann Treacy
November 16, 2015, 5:58 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I rarely write about our adventures in the Twin Cities and since the girls are older and we travel less frequently, I don’t write as often as I used to but if for no other reason than this post will help Aine remember, I thought I’d write up our day today at the memorial march for Paris. It started at  Alliance Française, folks marched to the Minneapolis Basilica (maybe a mile) and ended with a rally outside the church and finally a prayer service inside.

It’s not our first march. Our last one was a Black Lives Matter march near the State Fair. But this march was a little different. It was more somber than angry.

I’m terrible with numbers but there was a cathedral worth of people marching. We took up 5-6 city blocks. The march started with some instructions. And a police officer explained that they would be blocking the traffic for us, asked us to keep to the right – and sidewalk as much as possible. He wished us well.

It was 60 some degrees on November 15 in Minnesota. (Last year it was 14 degrees on November 15.) I’m sure that helped the numbers. People were friendly. I heard as much French as English. We heard a lot of “voulez?” as people offered us pins and signs. People carried flags and signs that read fraternité. It was a good language lesson day for Aine and a good reminder for both of us that at its best the US embraces other cultures.

We chatted with people. We walked to the church. We heard Representative Ellison speak about the importance of standing with our friends in France, help mourn the loss and to let terrorists know that would not win. “Vive la France!” he shouted and we echoed. Then the group sang the French national anthem and the group moved inside the church.

We went because we thought it was important to show support. We have been to Paris – for a very short trip and I spent my 18th birthday in Paris so that was a draw but really we were moved enough to want to be counted in the tally of people who actively stand up against terrorist attacks – albeit in a pretty easy way.

While we walked some passersby asked about Beirut and why didn’t we march for them. I thought it was a misplaced question. More than half of the people marching seemed to have a direct connection to France – so their weighted interest was clear. And many of the rest of us would march for Beirut given the opportunity. Some may have already done so. We have marched against wars in the past. I would turn the question back – if these people want us to march for civilian deaths in Beirut, invite us to the rally. Many of us would come. But commenting as you walk by isn’t very helpful. On Friday, hours after hearing of the events in Paris, Aine came into my room to tell me about all of the tragedies of the day – Paris, suicide bombers in Beirut, earthquake in Japan… It was overwhelming. We talked about it briefly. It’s part of what got me out the door to the march today

Now that being said, I recognize that there is a difference in how the Paris deaths are handled versus the deaths in Beirut. I think fewer people in the Twin Cities have visited Beirut so there is that missing piece but also I think the media is missing an opportunity to better introduce Americans to other nations – and not just nations in distress. By the time we hear about nations in distress I think we can sympathize with them but it’s hard to empathize. All we know about them is their tragedy. We need resources that help us be better global citizens by introducing us to neighbors around the world on a more regular basis – by that I mean more often but also showing us glimpse of their more regular lives.

We need that as a community – for my part it makes me want to help the girls travel more again.

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