Mourning Notre Dame

While it seems too early to write about such a tragedy, the nation of France and the world as a whole is mourning the loss of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. On Monday, the Cathedral caught fire and faced catastrophic damages.

Work on Notre-Dame, a celebrated icon of medieval architecture, began in 1163 and was completed in 1345. The cathedral, on an island in the center of Paris, is visited by about 13 million people a year.

President of France Emmanuel Macron said, "The fire of Notre Dame reminds us that our story never ends. And that we will always have challenges to overcome. What we believe to be indestructible can also be touched." While experts say rebuilding could take up to fifteen years, Macron went on to say that he wants the historic cathedral to be rebuilt in the next five years.

Though the event has brought unprecedented sorrow and shock, rebuilding is possible. While parts of Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral now lie in ruins, people can still experience what most of its nooks and crannies looked like in remarkable detail -- thanks to an American art historian. Andrew Tallon, a professor of art at Vassar College, used lasers to painstakingly scan the cathedral in 2015, giving us a nearly perfect digital replica of the Gothic structure. His work could help architects and engineers rebuild it after Monday's fire.

The devastating fire swept through the cathedral in the evening, riveting the world’s attention as nearly 500 firefighters raced to the scene. Thousands of Parisians gathered nearby to watch the effort to save it, and pray. Many were in tears.

The Cathedral stood as more than just a symbol of religion, it was a sense of national pride for most. It also represented the great and vast history of France. Most importantly, however, Notre Dame is a beacon of hope. The largest of the cathedral’s bells, which dates back to 1681, survived the French Revolution and has been rung at some of the most important events in French history, including both World Wars.

For me, Paris has always stood out as more than just a city. It is a place of love and emotion, peace and joy, and overall is representative of the essence of mankind. The last time I visited, I was accompanied by my grandfather, who although traveled to most countries in Europe, Africa, and the Americas during his life, was swept away by the beauty of Paris. My grandpa is no longer with us, but I know he shares a love for the city of Paris as much as I do.

The Cathedral, though painful to see engulfed in flames, still stands. It continues to be a sign of hope and perseverance, and thousands have already contributed to its rebuilding. Many around the world have visited the Cathedral and talk of fond memories and an overwhelming sense of emotion.