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Pray For Paris Rally In Main Plaza Held By French Community

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Mourners sign a book in front of Main Plaza Sunday. The honorary French consul in San Antonio says to book may end up in Paris

San Antonio residents joined French citizens yesterday in condemning the Paris terrorist attacks and in pledging to fight terrorism.

A crowd of more than 200 gathered for a memorial service in Main Plaza, where a small group of French citizens sang their national anthem, "La Marseillaise." Local residents joined in the ceremony that honored those who lost their lives in Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

Two flags made of flowers-- the French tri-color and the U.S. Stars and Stripes-- were laid on a table with a replica of the Eiffel tower and a book for people to sign.

Damien Watel, the honorary French Consul to San Antonio, thanked local residents who’ve reached out in solidarity. “Obviously everyone is very touched across the world about this. I can tell you the French
people are very touched about your support," he said before asking people to please join him in a moment of silence.”

For Watel’s mother, Lucielle, the attacks struck close to home. Her  grandson is a musician in Paris who regularly plays at the Bataclan theater were 89 hostages were killed.

“He had a concert just one week before, and when he has a concert all my grandchildren in Paris go to see their cousin of course, I could have lost six grandchildren,” Lucielle said.

San Antonio Spurs Point Guard and French national Tony Parker joined the rally with his mother and one of his brothers. “My other brother was in Paris that day and we were really worried obviously,” Parker said.

Firefighters and police officers, including San Antonio Police Chief William McManus joined the rally. MacManus says you can’t always prevent attacks like this but San Antonio is as prepared as a city can

“You can plan all you want, you can train all you want but you can’t ensure everyone that something like this could never ever happen because it could. But we do everything  that we could possibly do and more to ensure that it doesn’t," McManus said.

San Antonio resident Melissa Hernandez held a small sign that read "hope."  She wants to show France the support the world once gave to the U.S. “The U.S. has been through it before with 9/11. Everybody
around the world showed support for us. We’re all under one God so we come and pray for them like everybody else did pray for us," Hernandez said.

Paule-Emilie Dujour, a French citizen who’s been living in San Antonio for five years, says the world may be shaken by the attacks but we shouldn’t live in fear. “Because that’s exactly what they want. They want people to be scared and so I shouldn’t. That’s why some people said to gather was not such a good idea because something might happen and I was just like no I need to show my support and I need to be here," she said.

French Consul Damien Watel recalled another moment in history that prompted Americans to unite and fight. “Remember the famous phrase from Pearl Harbor, I’m afraid we’ve awakened the giant. I think that
just might be the case that ISIS has awaked the giant,” Watel said.

France may be bruised and grieving, but he said it is more than prepared to fight back.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules