My daughter and I visited Paris two months ago and we stayed in Le Marais, which is not far from the area where the recent terrorist attacks took place. In fact, the neighborhoods of the grisly attacks that glare out at us from our television screens are disconcertingly similar to the backgrounds in our vacation photos. We are in shock as our thoughts go out to our French friends in all parts of France and the new friends we made in Paris. We stand in solidarity not just with France, but also with the ideals that France has always stood for: Liberty, equality and fraternity or brotherhood.
Solidarity with France and with Paris is certainly not something new. In fact, solidarity with our French allies has been a rallying cry throughout history. My ancestor, Jacob Donaldson fought in the American Revolution and benefited from the French assistance of uniforms, supplies, arms and troops. It's even possible that the fledgling American Revolution and my ancestor might not have survived at all without the help of our French brothers across the Atlantic.
During World War II, the invasion of Paris, The City of Light, by German forces struck a psychological blow that remains with us today. This was not just an attack on the physical capital of France but on the ideals of the Enlightenment, an assault on the very cradle of the idea that a government should be forged from the will of the people and that this government should then strive for a balance between liberty and order and between liberty and equality.
These were the ideals that motivated my uncle, Bill Donaldson, a young, innocent teenager who was eager to fight for the liberation of Europe and Paris but who was killed in action when the transport ship he was on was bombed by the Nazis. I never met my uncle. I was born long after World War II was over but to this day, when my family speaks about Bill it is with hushed and saddened voices. His sacrifice is one we honor. Bill is gone but Liberty, Equality and Fraternity live on.
And so today, as we are coming to terms with the recent, terrorist attacks in Paris; we stand united behind our French brothers. In the days and months ahead, whether we pray, hope, think, dream or work towards a more secure world that is free from attacks on Liberty and Equality, we stand united with the brotherhood of man we love, not just in Paris, but everywhere.