SMU senior details experience in Paris during Nov. 13 terrorist attacks

Friday at about 10:15 p.m., I received a text from a friend saying that there had been a shooting in Paris. At first, I assumed it was simply a shooting, which unfortunately is very common in a place like Paris. She told me to stay safe and I told her I was staying in tonight, not to be worried and that I would go follow the story online.

Slowly the number of victims reported started growing as more and more incidents were being reported. That’s when messages started to pour in from friends, family, friends of friends, SMU and IFE faculty and complete strangers asking if I was ok.

Less than 2 miles away from me, hundreds of people were being reported dead, injured and taken as hostages. No one knew why or who was doing this, but it was happening. Twitter was my only source of information, and each time I refreshed my timeline, the number of people involved in the attack grew.

Early Saturday morning, Francois Hollande announced that the attacks were an “act of war” committed by the Islamic State. Several news outlets were also reporting that all of the attackers were now dead and that France had declared a state of emergency.

When I logged on to Facebook, I saw that there was an option to mark myself “safe” during an event called “Paris Terrorist attacks.” I immediately said I was safe and looked on that list and felt so relieved when I saw that each of my friends in Paris at the time had also been marked safe. It seems like such a small thing to push a button to say you’re safe, but it provided so much relief to everyone who knew someone in Paris Friday night.

People on social media began to show their support for France, sent out prayers and looked for ways to help those in the attack. People in Paris were opening up their homes for those seeking shelter and came together to show that they were not afraid of these attacks.

I am so unbelievably grateful to have not been involved in the events of Friday night. Saturday, I did not go out into the city and see for myself what had happened, but I did not hear as many people outside from my window as I usually do. On Ile Saint Louis, there were fewer children playing outside, fewer mopeds zipping down the street, and no band playing “Tequila” like on a typical Saturday night.

In times of national tragedy, it is important to show love and support as well as provide help when possible. In the past 24 hours, I received so much love from so many people wanting to make sure I am OK. That amount of love and support is minuscule compared to the amount of international support France has received this weekend.

I know that simply tweeting a hashtag or changing your Facebook profile will not change the events of Friday, but it is amazing to watch the world come together in support of those who were killed, hurt or affected by such a heinous act of terrorism and to end these violent attacks.

The people of Paris are hurting tonight, but they have come together and shown that terrorism cannot and will not win.

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