When you’re in the news business, the vast majority of stories don’t phase you. Every day, we plug away on stories of murder and destruction. It’s grim, but it’s routine.

If I stopped to dwell on it all, I would get nothing done. Write the story, maybe crack a dark joke more often than I should, and keep grinding.

But when I first saw the photos of the Notre-Dame on fire? That was far, FAR from routine.

The top story around the world that day was one in which no person was killed, but we all felt like we had suffered a loss. I felt myself choke up (uncharacteristically) when I wrote, “One of the world’s great wonders went up in flames today.”

Notre-Dame fire (Bouette/Creative Commons)
I mean, damn. (Bouette/Creative Commons)

Anyone could feel some sorrow at that awful sight, seeing one of mankind’s most awe-inspiring achievements burn away.

Altruism, engage!

The experience served to remind me of two important lessons:

1. Appreciate the beauty we have, and work to preserve it.

In the aftermath of the fire, a Twitter user gave us a good prompt for thought:

Brian Grace on Twitter

Name a building in the U.S. that would be as devastating of a cultural loss as the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

This being Twitter, everyone had jokes. Yes, the loss of the Memphis Pyramid that became a Bass Pro Shops would be heartbreaking. Here’s a ‘Like.’

The real answer, of course, is nothing (though Independence Hall and the Statue of Liberty would come close). No single building in the United States has the combined religious/historic/aesthetic/literary/cultural meaning to 327 million Americans that Notre-Dame Cathedral has to 67 million French.

Still, our country is filled with places that should be visited and celebrated, from the natural vistas of Yosemite and Zion to the man-made marvels of the National Mall and Chicago’s skyline.

We can come away with a better appreciation of the beauty that exists in America, even if we don’t have a Paris.

2. In the words of Rick Steves, I’ll keep on traveling.

I’m one of the fortunate ones: I’ve gotten to see Notre-Dame. Hell, I was able to fly to Paris and back within 48 hours.

But we were so close to losing Notre-Dame. And any of our world’s great landmarks could be next. Fire isn’t exactly predictable!

I doubt I will be able to see every wondrous sight in the world, to experience every magical place, to jump into every culture.

However, I’ll have do the Santa Claus thing: make a list and check it twice.


I would hate to see something happen to La Sagrada Familia before I got the chance to surround myself in it.

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I’m going to keep applying for that lottery for Wimbledon tickets, and I’ll get there sooner rather than later.

And yes, Kyoto, I’ll get to you the next time I am in Japan.

This blog started as both travel advice and a call to action: get going on the trips and experiences that you value. And I’ll keep firing up Google Flights and checking for the deals to get me there.

As for the bucket-list experience of seeing the Pirates finally play in the World Series?

Well, not everything’s in my control.

(Editor’s note: If you’d like a quick tour of the inside of Notre-Dame, pre-fire, have a go!)

Tour of Notre-Dame Cathedral

Do-Goodery’s Rocco DeMaro takes you through Notre-Dame Cathedral during a 2016 trip to Paris, France.

(Shot on during The 2016 DeMaro Adventure in France!)