After the horrible attacks in Paris, a surge of solidarity began to take hold around the world with the City of Lights in Love. One of the first places of this to be seen was on social media, first twitter with hashtags such as #PorteOuverte (open door) and #solidaritywithparis. Soon, Facebook released a Safety Check-in Tool to help loved ones know they were safe in the troubled city which had phone lines jammed for hours after the attacks. Then another photo editing idea began to show itself in the form of the french flag overlaying above Facebook users profile photos.
Within 24 hours, many Facebook feeds could be seen as covered with the images of Paris, France, and profile photos changed to Blue, White and Red. Many people began posting their stories of their journies to Paris. Following all this, in a truly beautiful spectacle, cities all over the world began changing their countries iconic landmarks to colors that reflected support for Paris and the colors of the Franch flag.
A huge surge of solidarity was seen throughout New York City today as well, as posters began to hang in windows stating “We are with you” written in front of posters with the French flag colors in the background. One store owner saying, “having lived through 9/11, your heart just goes out to them, we know how frightening it can be.”
New York City, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world seemed to be flooding with signs of support. One of the most notable of these was in a small neighborhood of Kew Gardens, located in Queens, New York. The neighborhood is situated almost equally between two of New York City’s busiest airports, La Guardia handling domestic flights and the world known John F. Kennedy International handling the majority of the cities International flights. Due to its strategic location between the two airports, both flight attendants, pilots and airport workers alike, live here in abundance. A number of them having close ties to France with Paris in particular, as many operate flights there throughout the month or often during the year. Many who fly the New York to Paris route often make friends there with locals, and their establishments they frequent while on their layovers; making this terror attack hit all too close to a place they consider a second home.
A few local residents, some who work for the airlines and some who did not, set up a small area on the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard, the heart of the Kew Gardens neighborhood. There they placed a some flowers, candles and two signs, one reading “In Solidarity with Paris” and the other stating “For all terror victims..” Below, there were free candles to light along with pens and markers, with a note encouraging passersby to sign and light a candle. Soon, more flowers showed up and more candles, followed by more messages of encouragement.
A Delta flight attendant walked by, having just returned from a trip, seeing it stopped dead with tears filling her eyes. Not wanting to be named, she said, “My family is there, last night my heart was broken, today it fills with support from my American family and others from around the world…” Other passersby stopped to talk and share stories and sign the posters. Most beautifully, a local mother said something to her young daughter in Spanish, her daughter then went over to sign the poster, then they lit a candle together. When I asked her what she said to her daughter, she replied, “I told her, this is how we fight hate, this is how we fight terror, we fight it with love…” A pilot heading to catch transportation to the airport stopped and took his hat off, closed his eyes for a moment and then signed the poster. He said, “These guys just don’t get it, carrying out attacks like this, all it does is bring us together more, we become stronger, the bonds between people become stronger in light of events like these…”
While the City of Paris is still shaken in the aftermath of the terror attack, it can be seen that they are not in the fight alone, and that fight will be fought with love from countries supporting them around the world.