LSUS history department chairman reflects on Notre Dame Cathedral fire

Updated: Apr. 17, 2019 at 11:30 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Like many around the world, history professor Gary Joiner remembers visiting Notre Dame Cathedral while attending a conference in Paris many years ago.

Most impressive to Joiner, who chairs LSU-Shreveport’s history department, is just how long it took to build the globally recognized icon.

“To me, it’s the epitome of civilization. It took 200 years to build when the average lifespan was around 40," he explained.

“The same families would commit all their children to building this giant monument. It was built in a hard time. It’s 850 years old and 200 to it.”

Like most historians, the images of flames burning through the cathedral made Joiner grieve.

He’s been watching the latest developments and speaking with former students about the impact of a history that will be rebuilt but can’t be replaced.

Joiner said he’s just happy that many relics were on display for Holy Week and were able to be saved.

“History is tactile. What you saw burning was architecture and culture and history and sociology and philosophy all in one thing.”

Joiner calls the cathedral the soul of the French nation but said it’s historical impact goes way beyond that.

“It’s in France, but it’s not French. It’s not even European. It’s humanity. It’s one of those great symbols that exceed far beyond borders.”

Joiner believes the Notre Dame Cathedral fire will spur many museums around the world, including those in the ArkLaTex, to look at their fire plans.

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