It was a day spent sharing quiet reflections and making gestures of solemn defiance Sunday as a crowd of hundreds converged on Boston Common in response to Friday's attacks in Paris.
The crowd of French immigrants and students as well as many Bostonians connected in some way to Parisian friends or relatives made hand-painted signs, children wore face paint of the Eiffel Tower inside a peace sign.
Many waved French flags or wore them as capes. There were half-dozen or more spontaneous sing-a-longs of the French National Anthem, “La Marseillaise.”
Before a brief moment of silence, French Consul General Valéry Frelandsaid few words from the bandstand, where a single French flag had been tied to a railing and someone had lit three tiny tea lights in red, white and blue.
“Today is a day of mourning,” Freland said. “I thank the New England people and their representatives for being with us.”
He had been joined by Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Mary Walsh and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but all stayed silent. There was an intense security detail.
In the crowd were many teachers and students at the French-language International School of Boston, who turned out holding handmade signs.
Lise Blanchet, history and geography teacher at the school, said teachers planned to talk about the tragedy in “age-appropriate” terms on Monday and to hold a moment of silence to start the day. It would be a grim repeat of the school’s response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, she said. But she expected this tragedy would inspire a different kind of conversation — one about senseless violence.
“Charlie Hebdo, it was artists, writers, journalists. Everyone felt concerned in a different way,” Blanchet said, a French native from Bellegarde. “It was a matter of principle and freedom of expression. This time it’s just death.”
She held a sign: “I [heart] Paris.”
The crowd marched quietly to Boston’s monument to Marquis de Lafayette, where a few laid flowers.
Carlos Arredondo, famed for his role as a cowboy hat-wearing Good Samaritan who helped victims at the Marathon bombing, was there. He wore French colors, carried a French flag and held a sign reading “Je suis Paris.”
“This is a big family right now,” Arredondo said, gesturing to the crowd of several hundred hanging around the statue. “No matter where we’re from we need to be together.”