Paris: Intoning the names of 130 dead, a subdued France paid homage today to those killed two weeks ago in the attacks that gripped Paris in fear and mourning. Windows were draped with French flags in an uncharacteristic display of patriotism, but the locked-down courtyard ceremony at the Invalides national monument lacked the defiance of January, when a million people poured through the streets to honor those killed by Islamic extremist gunmen.
France’s military provided the only images of today’s ceremony, and no one without an invitation was permitted inside.
The night of November 13, three teams of suicide bombers and gunmen struck across Paris, beginning at the national stadium – where President Francois Hollande was among the spectators – and ending in the storming of the Bataclan concert venue.
In all, 130 people died and hundreds were injured. The crowd at the stadium, as they filed outside that night, shakily sang France’s national anthem – and the Marseillaise was again played today.
Hollande entered the Invalides alone, and sat alone in a simple chair in front of the assembled crowd. Those killed were overwhelmingly in their 20s and 30s, young adults out on a mild Friday night of music, food, drinks or sports. The youngest was 17. The oldest, 68.
The courtyard went silent after the reading of the names finished, broken finally by a mournful cello. Hollande stared straight ahead.