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Sidonie Sawyer

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The Return of Fear

Posted: 04/16/2013 3:45 pm

I know about terrorism.

That's one of the reasons I left my homeland, France, after the many waves of terrorist attacks in Paris in 1986 and 1987. We had bombs in trash cans, military in the subway, restaurants were blown away, department stores were targeted, the peace my generation knew was shattered.

We often could not get to work for lack of public transportation, as many bomb alerts had to be checked in our Métro system. Many times the SWAT teams would search you before you could reach your office. No backpacks were allowed even in the streets.

I was walking down the Champs Elysées on my lunch break the day a bomb went off in a record store located at the end of an indoor gallery. A firefighter stopped me on the sidewalk a few blocks down and removed a piece of glass from my cheek. I had not heard the impact: I was deaf and disoriented from the explosion's impact, and stayed deaf for several days. I was lucky these were my only injuries, as ten people lost their lives in the attack that day.

A few weeks later, a family store exploded in a busy shopping street, injuring hundreds of kids and their mothers. The day-to-day life was difficult. We were surrounded by security, SWAT, police, army -- it felt like war. And the fear was constant.

In late 1987, when given the opportunity, I did not hesitate one minute, I moved to the United States, the frontier land, the safe heaven, the land of the pioneers' spirit. I wanted to walk El Camino Real into Texas, ride into the Far West, have Coca-Cola floats in 50s diners, see Hollywood, I wanted to make it in New York!

On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism came back.

Yesterday in Boston, fear came back.

 
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