This year is the first time I have been not on US land on September 11th. It is bittersweet for me to be enjoying Paris and not be able to pay proper respect to my fellow Americans on this very special day that changed all of our lives. Thankfully, the French also honor this day and I was able to go to Notre Dame Cathedral for a special mass. I was not the only one there..So was His excellency Mr. Charles H. Rivkin, Ambassador of the United States in France as well as French government ministers and over forty ambassadors and leaders of other religions and faiths.
Whether you are religious or spiritual, the overwhelming feeling you get at this place can’t be denied. There was probably over a thousand people there that day. People of all cultures, religions and backgrounds gathered to wish each other peace. Even though I prefer to go to Notre Dame during the least crowded time, to have the grand space all to myself, today I didn’t mind sharing this breathtaking cathedral with other tourists. The gothic architecture and its Romanesque motifs always get me thinking about what people were like back then..And the amount of effort and time they dedicated to bring this vision of theirs to life.
I walked around and took pictures. I listened to the amazing choir. I lit a candle for my dad who has not been with us since 2009. When I left I was full of thoughts of enlightenment and peaceful energy.
Vilte S. Holstad is a publicist and freelance writer living in Venice Beach, California.