Boston Bombing Survivor Honors Paris Terror Victims
She had seen it before. A dedicated space where both loved ones and strangers have gathered to lay flowers, light candles, and honor those killed and wounded in a senseless attack.
Michelle L’Heureux first saw a memorial like this while recovering from severe injuries as a survivor of the deadly Boston Marathon bombings in 2013.
L’Heureux had been standing just feet away from fellow survivor Jeff Bauman when the first of two pressure cooker bombs were triggered by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Boylston Street. L’Heureux suffered major injuries to her arm and leg. She also suffered hearing loss in the blast.
Yesterday, she visited a similar scene a world away at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, where 90 people were murdered by suicide terrorists in November.
“I guess this is how people felt going to the memorial at Copley Square on Boylston Street,” L’Heureux said. “I cried my eyes out. God bless them all.”
France, and Paris in particular, has always been L’Heureux’s “happy place.” It’s a country and a city where she strengthened her French heritage and strengthened ties with those who live there. She also visited France along with 114 fellow bombing survivors and their guests on a high-profile healing cruise sponsored by Vantage Deluxe World Travel headquartered in Boston back in December 2013, just six months after the Boston bombings. On that trip, she bonded with fellow survivors and struck new lifelong friendships.
After the deadly terror rampage in early 2015 at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, L’Heureux was one of the first Americans to visit Paris and show her solidarity with fellow survivors of terror. She never thought she would see her adopted city under such siege again.
L’Heureux had already booked another trip to Paris when the horror of a multi-pronged terror attack unfolded in November, killing 130 people in the deadliest attack to hit the City of Lights since World War II. Frightened and forced to relive her own pain in the Boston bombings, Michelle fought through her fear and concern and continued on with her trip to Paris and now to the Bataclan.
“It’s so overwhelming. Sad and overwhelming,” she said. “It’s like you can feel their pain because you know what that pain is. You want to help but you don’t know what to do. I didn’t know I would cry like I did. I feel sadness for them.”
At the memorial site, L’Heureux came upon a large violet wreath that had been laid down just last week by fellow Americans, families whose loved ones were killed on Flight United 93 on 9/11. She spent time straightening out the bow while she remembered those lives both in Paris and back in the United States that have been forever changed.