Emma’s World: Part I

There’s a sad and odd tendency in Western culture on anonymize the victims of terrorism; the victims of Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Bali, Spain, London, Mumbai and Paris are so often remembered as groups, not individuals. We don’t often think of their individual accomplishments, their individual voices, their individual dreams. We don’t take the time to fully honor their souls.

The same goes for those who survive these acts of aggression. Over 350 people were injured by the perversity in Paris; some may recover physically, but the psychological injuries inflicted on November 13 may well take a lifetime to heal. We must always keep these men and women in our thoughts and prayers as well…and we must always remember them as individuals, not anonymous survivors.

As I read news reports about the victims and survivors of November 13, I was struck by the story of a young woman named Emma Grace Parkinson, a 19-year-old native of Hobart in the Australian state of Tasmania. Parkinson was in the Bataclan theatre enjoying the Eagles of Death Metal concert when hate made it through security:

Her tale of survival started as a fun night out with friends at the Eagles of Death Metal concert.

Parkinson was dancing at the front of the stage at Bataclan Theatre, mere metres from where the lead singer was standing.

It was then she heard what she thought was firecrackers, only to realise a split second later the sounds were bullets being fired. Falling to the ground, Parkinson then started the fight for her life.

Parkinson was shot in the upper thigh and underwent several hours of surgery; she was released from the hospital just a few days later.

Reading about young Emma’s love of life can’t help but renew our contempt for those who tried to take it, and who successfully took the lives of so many others:

The teacher of the 19-year-old Australian woman, who was shot during the terror attacks in France, was shocked to hear that his student had been personally affected by the horrific event.

React drama school teacher Andrew Casey told ABC that it was ‘unfathomable’ that his student Emma Grace Parkinson, who had ‘dreamed of living in Paris’ had been affected by this ‘horrible tragedy.’

‘To someone who’s so young and so bright, to be involved in this is just … I mean, I myself can just hardly believe it,’ said Mr Casey.

Mr Casey added: ‘I’ve been over there a couple of times and whenever I’ve come back, it’s always like, whenever I see Emma I think, “well that’s just the place for you,” especially living in Paris.

‘It’s somewhere she’s always sort of talked of and always had a great love for,’ continued Mr Casey…

Ms Parkinson [hails] from Tasmania but has been living in Tubingen, Germany, and was believed to be holidaying in France.

Emma’s story reaffirms the preciousness of life–how valuable and sacred and fragile it is, and how blind, ignorant hatred can take it in a second, or come so damn close. This young woman loved life before this horrible attack. She will love life even more now…and that makes her and all those who survived the horror of Paris better than those who love death, and who commit these acts of savagery in the name of that warped love.

(NEXT: “She just needed to talk to her mum.”)

UPDATE: More from Vice.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.