Adelie Revolle was in the supermarket when she learned two of her friends had been killed in the deadliest attack in France since World War II.
“They were at the concert,” Revolle, a senior finance major and French native, said.
The Bataclan, a 1,500-seat venue that hosted the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal Friday, was one of several sites subject to terrorist attacks that shook Paris this weekend. The reported death toll varies among international media outlets, but most confirmed at least 120 people died in the attacks, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility this weekend.
The BBC reported at least 80 people were killed at the concert.
“I feel terrible for their parents,” Revolle said through her tears. “I just hope their bodies look good, so they can get what they deserve.”
She and several friends gathered with Philadelphians, French natives and sympathizers to show support for France at a vigil held in LOVE Park Saturday.
Several mourners arranged tea-light candles in the combined shape of the Eiffel Tower and a peace sign and hung the French flag from the LOVE sculpture. Wooden boards, tables and their bodies blocked wind from blowing out the small flames.
About 30 feet from Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Village, several personal wishes were pinned to a wishing wall set up for the display, most of which were messages for Paris. Phrases like “Pray for Paris,” “World Peace” and “Love for Paris” were scribbled with crayons and markers on napkins, receipts and tissue paper. Chrysanthemums and candles laid underneath it.
As some people lit candles and battled the wind to keep them burning, others stood silently, holding onto one another to mourn and fight the cold. Whispers of French were audible, save for when the clock at City Hall began to toll at 8 p.m. The crowd grew silent.
Following the moment of silence, faint piano emerged, playing the opening notes to John Lennon’s “Imagine.” It came from the back of the crowd, where a man stood staring at the ground with a portable speaker and a single candle between his feet, the French flag wrapped around his shoulders.
“My first reaction was: not again,” said Gaelle Durand, from Le Havre, France, who helped set up the candles beneath the LOVE sculpture. Ten months ago, Durand said, “We had Charlie Hebdo, and now this.”
Durand learned about the vigil from the Consulate General of France in Philadelphia.
“We are just empty,” she said. “A part of us is in Paris, but physically, we are here.”
Several Temple students from France attended the vigil, including senior international business majors Margot Nerguisian and Camille Marquet.
“I feel so powerless,” Nerguisian said. “When I looked at the news, I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked.”
“We’re still in shock,” Marquet added.
Fifteen minutes into the vigil, observers began to sing the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” Afterwards, people stood together in silence, occasionally offering words of comfort to one another.
Around 9 p.m. observers began to trickle away. The candles remained lit, and the surrounding buildings still shone blue, white and red lights on their facades.
“We made a part of France here, to show our solidarity,” Durand said. “We’ll be like this for a long time.”
The Associated Press reported France had bombed several ISIS sites in Syria in the days following the Paris attacks.
Revolle said additional conflict is not the solution for France.
“I wish we weren’t going to war,” she said. “That’s not the solution.”
Any threat to France is “coming from the inside, not the outside,” she added.
But Revolle hopes her country will return to normalcy soon.
“I hope that when I come back for Christmas that our country will have the same magic and the same happiness we had before,” she said.
Julie Christie can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @JulesChristie.
Aaron Windhorst contributed reporting.
Video shot by Aaron Windhorst and edited by Sean Brown.