Two weeks after the Paris attacks, 130 names were read out slowly in the grand square of the Hotel National des Invalides in Paris on Friday.
In a somber, moving memorial service, the names of the victims and their ages echoed over an assembly of those whose lives were changed in the attacks: the wounded, family members, as well as those who came to their aid in the Bataclan, the Stade de France and on the cafe and restaurant terraces, including members of the Red Cross, police and fire rescue units.
As each name in the roll call sounded across the courtyard, their face flickered onto a screen.
While seventy victims still remain in the hospital, the wounded – many on stretchers and in wheelchairs – came to brave the cold, joining a thousand-strong ceremony where moments of silence and choral music served as a prologue to a brief address by French President Francois Hollande. Noting the young ages of so many of the victims, Hollande addressed a generation who were children when 9/11 occurred.
“Freedom does not need to be avenged but to be served,” he asserted. “This new generation, it has been struck down. It’s not afraid. It will live. It will live fully in the name of the dead we mourn today.
“Today, despite the tears, this generation has become the face of France,” he continued.
This phrase was later tweeted by the élysées Palais.
In a finely balanced ceremony pitched between mourning and defiance – and punctuated with tears – Bach’s Sarabande and a stirring La Marseillaise (the French national anthem) played before Hollande denounced the “cowardly attacks.” France, he promised “will do everything possible to destroy the army of fanatics who committed these crimes.”
Describing their litany of hate, he linked the Paris attacks with those in Bamako, Tunis, and previous ones in London and Madrid.
Turning to the families, Hollande described “130 destined which have been crushed, 130 whose laugh will be heard again, 130 voices. Women. Men…
“It is because they represented freedom that they were massacred.”
“Those who came to kill on the night of Nov. 13… will fail,” he pledged, France and its allies will prevail “with our weapons, weapon of democracy. With our institutions. With international law.”
“We will fight to the end, and we will win.”
And France, the nation which the 130 victims knew, he pledged, “will not change.”