Hundreds of flickering candles lined the brick path leading from the Sunken Garden to the Wren Courtyard Sunday night as the William & Mary community gathered for a moonlight vigil for Friday’s terrorist attacks on Paris.
The vigil, organized by students in the aftermath of the attack, sought to provide the campus community a time to come together in remembrance of those lost and to stand in solidarity with the French people.
As the vigil began, students began to gather in the space between the Wren Courtyard and the Sunken Garden stairs. Soon what had been 20 tea lights became 100, and the stream of lights only grew larger along with the crowd.
Well over 200 students soon lined the illuminated brick walkway, standing in solemn silence. Many students stepped to the head of the Sunken Garden, where a banner inscribed with the words “Peace for Paris” lay for participants to write their thoughts and well-wishes for the people of Paris.
“Even though these terrorist attacks happened thousands of miles away, all of us who attended the vigil felt a very personal connection. The effects of such a tragedy cannot be confined to a single city or even a single nation,” said attendee Douglas Breton ’17. “All of us are impacted. Prions pour Paris, et prions pour le monde.”
Although the Paris attacks were tragic, they were not the only atrocities committed last week. Beirut and Baghdad were also the target of attacks, and their losses were likewise recognized during the candlelight vigil.
“The acts committed not only in Paris, but also in Beirut, were terrible. But we stand strong. And seeing all of you here can only give us hope,” said Thibault Vermeulen, a student from Paris who helped organize the vigil, to the gathered community.
“We would like to thank you for coming here tonight, for signing our banner, for lighting these candles, and for showing support to each other,” he continued.
The banner will remain in the French House in the Randolph Complex throughout this week for those who could not make it to the vigil to record their support.
“Thank you again for coming, and let’s pray for all of the victims,” Vermeulen said.