A little over a year ago I meandered aimlessly through the maze of streets that crisscross your capital. Your charm captured me from the first and I finally grasped why Paris is the place where lovers rendezvous. The inviting cafes, the color-bursts of flowers, the tantalizing aroma beckoning from patisseries, are some of the images that will forever linger in my memory.
As I walked I marveled at the casual way modern and ancient lines intersect as though the eras of past and present still consult; each understanding its dependence upon the other. Timeless treasures intermingle seamlessly with the steel and glass of contemporary structures. A certain wisdom lends itself to your land. It is almost as though the days of yesteryear can still be touched and, if one stood still long enough, their echo faintly heard.
But it was your people that made me feel as though I was visiting my next-door neighbor. Like the diversity in architecture, your inhabitants are a fusion of Frankish ancestry and the more recent influx of immigrants warmly welcomed. Beneath the spire of the Eiffel Tower, friendships cross cultural barriers and a common understanding of humanity is embraced. I reveled in the vitality and spirit of your people as if they were my own.
Now, as we all muddle our way through the dark aftermath, it is not enough to say we are sorry. Our sorrow can never replace your loss. But, perhaps it will bring you some solace to know that America, your old friend, mourns with you. As the tears fall, we remember the bond forged between our two countries when Washington and Lafayette embraced. And, just as those two great men prayed for each other, today, we pray for you.
May you, beautiful France, heal from your wounds and emerge stronger than you ever were before. May you look to Heaven for courage and may you find peace in knowing that God loves you.