Allons enfants de la Patrie Ah-lonz uhn-fun dullah pahtree-ee-uh
Le jour de gloire est arrivé. Luh joor de glwahh ate arry-vay
Contre nous, de la tyrannie, Contra noo de lah tee-rah-neee-uh
L'étandard sanglant est levé, Letten-dar son-glan tay lev-eh
l'étandard sanglant est levé, Letten-dar so-on-glan tay lev-eh
Entendez-vous, dans nos compagnes, Ontonn-dey voo dan no campa-nn-uh,
Mugir ces feroces soldats Moo-geer say fair-oss-uh solda
Qui viennent jusque dans nos bras Ki vienn, jooska dahn no bra
Egorger no fils et nos compagnes Ay-gorge-ay no fiss ay no compaaaah-gnnh
Aux armes citoyens! Lancez vos bataillons ! Ozarm-uh sit-waah-yen, Lan-say vo bata ah-yon
Marchons, marchons! Marchons ! Marsh on, marsh on
Qu’un sang impur Kun son im-pure
Qu’un sang impur Kun son im-pure
Abreuve nos sillons. Abb rev-er noh see-on
And this is the way it sounded that night in London - (isn't it moving?)
"Fluctuat nec mergitur" the old Paris motto started to appear in the last few days on walls and social media on the web as a resistance cry against terrorism. It was also written on a large banner on the Place de la Republique in Paris. (Photos courtesy Debora Ramos and Joann Sfar.)
"Fluctuat nec mergitur" has been Paris motto, or maxim, since the 16th century. It is a Latin phrase that means "tossed but not sunk." This motto usually appears under a vessel in the coat of arms of the city of Paris. During the French Revolution all coat of arms were abolished, including this one. But in 1853, the prefect of Paris, Baron Haussmann, officially reintroduced the Paris coat of arms. This coat of arms is very popular and can be seen on all city halls in Paris, public buildings, train stations, bridges, all Paris schools including La Sorbonne university, stamps, medals and more. Fluctuat nec mergitur is translated into French as "Il est battu par les flots, mais ne sombre pas" meaning in a way that Paris, despite adversities of all types is always indestructible.
The Eiffel Tower was not lighted, as a mourning sign, from Friday 13 through Monday 16 November, 2015. But then it was bright again with the French flag colors. The Paris motto could be seen on the deck of the first floor (Trocadero side.) Photos courtesy Paris Match.
Parisians are not church people, they gathered near makeshift memorials and public squares. The Paris city government had told the citizens to stay indoors but they did not - they wanted to show that acts of terrorism were not going to prevent them from living as they pleased, placing candles, flowers and other tributes to show their solidarity. On the Place de la Republique, at the base of the statue were several signs with words in French saying "Même pas peur !" (not even afraid) and France is not afraid, but very sad. This theme was also seen on the internet and in several countries.
Parisians wanted to show the terrorists that they did not yield to fear, that they would raise their heads and keep drinking on the Paris terraces (outdoor cafes,) stroll through the streets of the capital and let their children play outside - as acts of rebellion, political acts. Although I think it is a bit early, and their hearts are not in it. Several #ashtags were seen, such as #Notafraid, #occupyterrasse, #Parisestunefete, #occupycomptoir, #tousaubistrot and #maindanslamain. Parisians were not betrayed by fears and were trying hard to sing under their tears. It's a feeling I recognized. After 9/11 when people were afraid to go to New York City, my first impulse was to fly there, and I did, alone, as soon as my company gave me some time off, just some weeks later, in October 2001. (See "A cancelled trip" written on September 10, 2011.) I was given a pamphlet in New York - it said "Hate cannot win." I still hope so.
On the other hand, I was saddened and surprised to see an international survey, a while back, showing that US citizens now were the most afraid from all the citizens in western countries. I forgot exactly all the reasons of their fright, but there were many. It showed that in the US most people (not all, thankfully) are afraid of foreigners, immigrants, refugees, people of other colors, races, religions other than Christian (super afraid of Muslims and Sikhs.) They are also terrified of diseases, such as Ebola, scared to travel overseas, scared of some food, scared of plane crashes, scared of real estate bubbles, scared of poisonous toys from China, scared of kids getting autism from vaccinations, and much more, and right now mostly scared of Syrian refugees and Mexicans. (Although I read yesterday that between 2009 and 2014 more Mexicans went back home than came into the US ...) By the way, the father of Steve Jobs (founder of Apple) was an immigrant from Syria. Here is Steve below as a young man.
My father was a refugee. France took, for political asylum, more than 80,000 Armenian refugees after the Genocide in Turkey. My father, an Armenian, was born in Istanbul, was considered without a country, and taken in by the French. He became a French citizen after fighting for France in WWII. I am not sure why Americans are so afraid when you think that in the last decade 24 persons have been killed in the USA due to terrorism and 280,024 have died victims of gun violence. Almost 30 persons die each day in motor vehicles crashes (that's almost 11,000 per year.) But two days ago, on November 19, 2015, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Republican party act to suspend admitting the 10,000 Syrian refugees that the US had scheduled to accept in the next years - France is admitting 30,000 Syrian refugees. Below is a picture of my mother's grandmother, my great grandmother. She was born in France in the mid 1850s.
Her name was Alexandrine Bourdain. The reason I am showing her is because my mother told me that she, Alexandrine, a young woman in 1878, gave her savings toward the financing of a great statue that was being sculpted by a French man, from Alsace, named Frederic A. Bartholdi. The funding for this statue had been difficult to achieve, so a large collection for public fund had been launched in 1875, continuing till 1880, and most French citizens were contributing, including Alexandrine. To help with funding, the head of the statue was shown in the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878 - see vintage picture below.
Finally this statue, called La Statue de la Liberté (Liberty Enlightening the World) was offered as a gift from the French people to the United States and arrived in New York City on 17 June 1885, greeted in port by about 100 ships - see vintage postcard below. I wrote the history of the Statue of Liberty in my July 4, 2009, post - click here to read it.
My great grandmother loved America because it had abolished slavery, and was greeting immigrants and refugees freely into their land - the land of freedom for all. She gave the love of the US to her granddaughter, my mother, who was an active member of the organization France-Louisiane, and my mother gave this love to me. But now after everything I have heard in the news lately, I wonder if the last five lines of Emma Lazarus' poem are still valid - "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" The Republican Party might consider adding "unless they are Syria or Middle-East refugees and not Christians." My great grandmother would be aghast at how the US is being defined by fear now instead of "liberty." But, as for me, I still hope that good compassionate people here will have the upper hand.
Addendum: Speaking of a fearful and prejudiced public refusing entry to refugees, I just read an article in History Buff by Jake Offenhartz, a graduate of the University of Michigan. He relates that according to documents discovered in 2012, Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank - whose book "The Diary of Anne Frank" was published after WWII - had written numerous letters to US officials pleading for permission to immigrate to the United States with his family as refugees. The letters were written between April and December 1941 and went unanswered. After Otto Frank's letters requesting political asylum were ignored by the US, the Franks went into hiding. The family was later discovered and sent to concentration camps.
2nd addendum: It has been found lately that Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor behind the statue, initially envisioned the statue to stand at the entrance to the Suez Canal in Egypt as a Muslim peasant woman. Encyclopaedia called the sketch "an African-style female figure" and the National Park Service, a bureau of the Department of the Interior, confirmed on their website that he originally designed a colossal statue of "a robed woman holding a torch, which he called "Egypt Bring Light to Asia." It is ironic in a way considering the current attitude in the US. See more information on this in my post here: Statue of Liberty and current events.