Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Burning of Notre Dame de Paris.

The United States of America is less than 250 years old. We simply do not have anything to compare with Notre Dame de Paris that combines historical, cultural, and architectural significance and aesthetic beauty. We had 9/11 and the burning of the White House in the War of 1812, but without reducing their impact and meaning one iota, the significance of the destruction of those buildings was different, and we will not understand what it means to the French to see that 900+ year-old building so damaged by fire.

I hear that many relics had been removed as the building was being restored and many more were removed before the fire got to them, most of the stone structure, including the two famous towers, still stand, and that only one person, a firefighter, was seriously injured. I am certain that the French have documented and measured every inch of that structure and computer-analysed the colors and constructional materials of everything in it, but rebuilding a perfect copy is not the same as actually having the original wooden beams in the roof, for which an entire forest is said to have been cut down, or those original stained glass windows from the 1200's.

A few years ago I was in Paris and shot extensive photos and videos of the building, inside and out. But I failed to save the digital files in my camera from that day. More recently, I returned to that city, but did not take the time to re-shoot it. Now much of what I saw will only remain in my memory and other people's pictures.

This building, and France, have survived longer than many nations, and they both have seen greater share of victories and losses, damage and recovery, revolution and evolution, than an American who does not trace their roots beyond this nation's history can conceive. As a person of mostly-French descent and a student of history, my heart goes out to France, my French relatives and friends, and the French people for whom this building means so much, and grieve for the loss, but look forward to the French spirit that will rebuild it.

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