Hundreds gathered to hold a vigil in honor of those killed in the terror attacks in Paris in Lafayette Square across from the White House on Saturday night. The French ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, spoke to the crowd and asked for a moment of silence for all those killed, after which people joined in singing “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem.
Araud spoke of the victims and their families. He asked the crowd to keep them in their thoughts.
“Think of all these lives which have been destroyed. All these people were in a concert, were in a restaurant, in a bar and suddenly, after this senseless outburst of violence, everything was over,” Araud said. “Let’s think of all our dead. Let’s think also of their parents, their relatives, their spouses, their friends who are now carrying the burden of the grief, the burden of the mourning.”
The death toll for the most recent attacks in Paris has risen to 129 with 352 more injured, 99 of them critically. The attacks occurred at six sites in Paris, including just outside a soccer stadium and inside the Bataclan, a concert hall where an American heavy metal band had been performing.
All eight Georgetown students studying at Science Po Paris remained safe during the attacks.
Araud mentioned the attacks in Paris this past January, in which 11 people working for Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, were killed.
“In January 2015, we were already together just after a terrorist attack in Paris,” Araud said. “Unfortunately, again we are here together after a new terrorist attack in Paris.”
Before addressing the crowd in French, Araud asked those gathered to remember the individuals killed rather than the number of the dead.
“The figures are hiding the tragedy of all these individuals who have been killed for no reason,” Araud said. “We have to think of all these faces. We have to think of all these individual sufferings.”
Araud then thanked the United States for its expressions of solidarity with France.
“I think it’s not the moment to make a speech. I think it’s the moment first to say thank you to all our American friends for their incredible expression of grief, of solidarity and of friendship,” Araud said.
Araud went on to speak in French, stressing the importance of unity and solidarity during this time. He also stated that the country is again at war and must defend itself.
After a minute of silence for the victims of the tragedy, Araud called for the crowd to sing the French national anthem as some lit candles and waved French flags. Cries of “Vive la France” were heard as the ambassador finished his remarks.
Cooper Brehm (SFS ’19) appreciated the gathering of people during the time of mourning and grief.
“It’s definitely an emotional scene here. It’s an emotional situation,” Brehm said. “It’s nice to see that we’re congregating together.”
Andrew Schneider (COL ’19), a French-American student, said he appreciated the solidarity shown by those gathered for the vigil and by the United States in general.
“It’s nice to be here and see one of my countries supporting my other country in such an emotional time,” Schneider said. “It’s just really nice to be here.”
Seamus Guerin (COL ’16) was touched by the diversity of those showing support to France.
“It was moving to be there, and it was clear how real the grief and the sorrow was on behalf of everyone there, not just the French and not just the Americans, but persons of all walks of life and all backgrounds,” Guerin said. “It was very special to be a part of that.”