About 50 students, faculty members and Ithaca residents attended a vigil to commemorate last week’s tragic events in Beirut, Lebanon and Paris, France on Ho Plaza Monday.
Coordinated terrorist attacks killed over 129 people in Paris Friday and two suicide bombers killed 43 people in Beirut Thursday, with the attacks in both locations leaving hundreds wounded.
The vigil was organized by the Cornell French Society, according to Adélaïde Pacton ’17, the organization’s president. Pacton said the French Society held the vigil “to honor the innocence of the deceased in the two tragedies.”
“[We wanted] to remind people that this is not only something that affects Western countries, but also the rest of the world, and that it is something that is very recurrent,” Pacton said.
Both the French and Lebanese flags were displayed in the center of the circle of mourners, and attendees wrote messages of solidarity on the flags. The French motto ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ was one of the messages written on the French flag to honor the spirit of the French people and remember those lost.
At the start of the vigil, Pacton encouraged attendees to “express their sentiments about the tragedies” if they wished to. Those attending also participated in a moment of silence to remember and honor the victims of the attacks.
After the moment of silence, several crowd members began to sing ‘La Marseillaise,’ the French national anthem and ‘Alensheyd Alewteny Alelbenaney,’ the Lebanese national anthem.
“There is no time limit [to the vigil], we just want people to spend as much time as they need here,” Pacton said. “People at Cornell have lost their loved ones in Paris and I’m sure Lebanon is the same.”
Boustros described the events as an “act of humanity” and called the spoken and written contributions of attendees “very meaningful.”
Yamini Bhandari ’17 said the vigil demonstrated the unity of the Cornell community in a time of global tragedy.
“It was nice to see students, faculty, and administrators come together and have a moment to reflect on the tragedies around the world,” she said. “It gave me a sense of hope that we all could agree that actions like these terrorist attacks were inhumane and Cornell stood for peace.”
Pacton stressed that the vigil was not a time for political commentary.
“This is a moment where we all need to just reflect,” she said.
Throughout the event, the clocktower played several songs, from ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon to the French national anthem.