Politicians March in Boston Common Vigil for Paris Victims

Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined a large crowd to show solidarity with Paris.

politicians boston paris vigil

Photo by Erick Trickey

French flags were dangled from people’s hands, pinned to jackets, and painted on people’s cheeks on the Common Sunday as hundreds of Bostonians gathered to show solidarity with the victims of terrorist attacks in Paris Friday.

“Nous sommes Paris” and “Je suis Paris,” read signs decorated with the French flag’s blue, white, and red. Another sign spoke for Lebanon, where a terrorist attack killed more than 40 people in Beirut this week. Conversations unrolled in French as well as English among those waiting for the noon vigil, organized by the French Consulate in Boston.

The ceremony at the Parkman Bandstand was simple and brief. Valery Freland, the French consul general in Boston, spoke without a microphone as Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren stood at his side. Freland asked the crowd to remember the dead in a moment of silence, which was broken only by a siren and the traffic on Tremont Street.

Then Freland, Baker, Warren, and Walsh led those on the dais down the stairs, around the bandstand, and north through the Common. As they passed, many in the crowd began to sing “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem. Many in the crowd joined the procession on the path next to Tremont.

The march stopped near Park Street Station at a plaque honoring the Marquis de Lafayette. Freland thanked Warren, Walsh, and Baker, shook hands, and hugged the senator and governor.

Baker contemplated the Lafayette plaque, which honors the French general’s role in the American Revolutionary War and his 1824 visit to Boston.

“Any casual student of American history knows France stood with America at its most critical juncture 240 years ago,” Baker said. The two nations also collaborated on the Statue of Liberty, he noted, because of “a shared belief in democracy, liberty, freedom of speech, and religion.”

“France and Boston have both suffered the tragedy of terrorism,” Baker continued. “We’ve shared too much history, good times, and bad times. We stand with the French.”

“It brings me back to Marathon Monday in a lot of ways,” Walsh told reporters. “The people of France in the United States are hurting. The people of France around the world are hunting. All of the free world is hurting.”

Walsh predicted the French would respond to the Paris attacks as Boston did to the marathon bombings. “People thought it was going to bring Boston to their knees, and in fact, it did the opposite.”