In 1956 US President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded Sister Cities International — a “nonpartisan nonprofit for 545 U.S. sister cities, counties, and states with 2,121 partnerships in 145 countries on six continents.” The global organization delivers various benefits to its joined cities, presenting opportunities to share cultures and enhance relationships between distant peoples and places. Sister Cities share “long-term, cooperative relationships through cultural, educational, business, and technical exchanges.”
Paris, of course, is one of the great cities of the world — the famed City of Light. And in that role it is related to all cities in all the world. But through the official Sister Cities organization, Paris has two official sister cities in the US — Chicago and Washington, DC, the two towns — incidentally — that President Obama calls home. A Paris under siege affects the whole globe, from Baghdad to Beijing to Boise. But a special empathetic pain might be said to afflict Chicago and Washington when tragedy strikes Paris. Indeed, an attack on Paris is an attack on the Western values of Washington and Chicago, too. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said after the January 2015 terror attacks in Paris that the “cowardly act… only strengthens our bond. The District stands in solidarity with the people of France.” Paris’s Washington bond and its bond with Chicago will only grow stronger after this latest cowardly act.