More than a hundred people gathered in downtown Dallas Sunday evening to honor the victims of Paris attacks and stand in solidarity with France.
The group gathered around a small vigil of candles and fell silent for a minute before singing the French national anthem. The event, organized by the Alliance Française de Dallas, was held near the Omni Hotel, which is currently colored blue, white and red – the colors of the French Flag.
Many of those who gathered are either from France, have ties to France or wanted to show their support for the country after terrorists struck in various locations Friday killed 129 people.
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Camille Cockerell, who is from the Champagne region of France, lived 15 years in Paris.
“I feel really concerned because this neighborhood was my former neighborhood, I used to bike there to go back to my home – a year ago, I could be there, definitely,” Cockerell said.
When asked what she was feeling after the attack, Cockerell said, “A lot of pain and compassion because we think about our friends and we know every single street, we know every image we see on the TV, I’ve been to that show place, I still remember my last concert over there, we fell everything because we know those places pretty well.”
Cockerell praised the support she has received in the United States as did others like Pauline Fortè, who is originally from Strasbourg, France.
“The U.S. has been unbelievable,” Fortè said, “the support has been really great – it’s overwhelming.”
Fortè says she has friends and family living in Paris, and following the attacks immediately worried if those she knew were safe.
“I have a cousin who lives 50 meters from where the restaurant shootings happened,” Fortè said.
Fortè says the past several days have been difficult, and the gathering tonight was emotional.
“The reason France was attacked, it’s not a random target,” Fortè said, “it’s because of what it represents that they hate and I hope it never dies.”
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Those who gathered wanted to send their support and love to those suffering half a world away, but they also have a message for France – a message of strength.
“It’s really important to stand up and say we don’t accept that – that’s not acceptable,” Cockerell said, “we need to fight and stand up and continue to live life even though it’s really hard.”
“Turn the lights on and live as much as you can live,” Fortè said, “let the culture keep on going, let the philosophers keep on thinking, go out, go to the museums, go to the concerts, read and educate yourself."