SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Dozens of people gathered on the steps of the Utah State Capitol this evening to show their support for the people of France following the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday.
Many from Utah’s French population came together with supporters to hold a vigil for the victims. A moment of silence was held as people held French flags, wore rouge, blanc, and bleu, and carried balloons with the colors of France.
“This is me, this is my people, this is where I need to be today,” said Wendi Bergstrom a French teacher who fell in love with the French culture and life at a young age.
And Nathaniel Kingdon said ‘It’s just too sad and I don’t want to see anybody else deal with it.”
Children were holding signs reading “Je Suis Paris,” and “United,” while other attendees held up French flags and images of iconic French monuments like the Tour Eiffel.
Balloons were released into the air and then the sounds of La Marseillaise, the French National Anthem echoed through the front lawn of the state capitol. All the while those family and friends in Paris recall their fear and worry for their loved ones as the news of the attacks went out.
“I couldn’t believe it. I called my brother right away ’cause he lives in Paris, just wanted to make sure he was fine and was really shocking,” said Kevin Ortiz who moved to Utah from France just 9 months ago to teach French here in Utah.
With their loved ones in France many felt powerless being away from home as the shocking images unfolded on the TV, but they say today this vigil was a way for them to show their love and support not just for Paris but for all countries and people who have fallen victim to terrorism.
“First of all it’s to support our French people, our friends, family living in France. But it’s also to support the world against barbarism and what happened in those last years in the world,” said David Barthod.
As they stood there with their thoughts in France they say back home a sense of uneasiness looms over Paris as the city continues to mourn.
“My brother doesn’t really want to go out right now,” said Ortiz. “I think it’s everyone is pretty scared about what happened.”
But they say it’s wonderful to see the world light up with the colors of France and their love and support for its people.
This evening Governor Herbert released the following statement:
“Jeanette and I express our deepest sympathies to the victims in Paris and to all those who will feel the pain and loss from this tragedy for years to come. Through this small gesture, Utahns from across the state demonstrate that our hearts are united in support of the nation of France during this difficult time.”
Gov. Herbert has also ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff immediately until sunset on Thursday, November 19, 2015.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is also flying the French flag all throughout Temple Square and the First Presidency released this statement on Saturday following the attacks in Paris.
“With people around the world, we mourn today as we consider the horrific tragedies that have occurred in Paris. We pray for those affected, for their families and loved ones, for the leaders of nations and most especially for the people of France as they struggle to recover from the violence and loss they are feeling so deeply. We have directed that flags on Temple Square be flown at half staff, and that the French flag be flown here as an expression of our love and support for them. In these hours of uncertainty and despair, we ask members of the Church everywhere to join with us in our prayer that the peace of the Savior Jesus Christ will provide comfort, healing, understanding and hope.”
“Comme des gens du monde entier, nous sommes profondément affligés aujourd’hui par les horribles tragédies qui se sont produites à Paris. Nous prions pour les victimes, pour leurs familles et leurs êtres chers, pour les dirigeants des pays et, tout particulièrement, pour le peuple de France, qui s’efforce de se remettre de la violence et de la perte qui les touchent si profondément. Nous avons demandé que les drapeaux de Temple Square (Salt Lake City, Utah) soient descendus à mi-mât et que le drapeau français soit hissé pour exprimer aux Français notre amour et notre soutien. Dans ces heures d’incertitude et de désespoir, nous demandons aux membres de l’Église de partout de prier avec nous pour que la paix du Sauveur Jésus-Christ apporte la consolation, la guérison, la compréhension et l’espérance.”