Community members gather to mourn violence

By Anna Spoerre, @ASpoerre_DE

Candlelight reflected in the faces of young and old Sunday evening to support France and mourn the deaths of at least 132 killed and more than 350 wounded Friday in a series of attacks in Paris, the deadliest in France since World War II, according to CNN.

More than 100 community members came together for the silent candlelight vigil at the Carbondale Town Square Pavilion.

Mayor John “Mike” Henry was among those in attendance, in addition to members of city council and fire department. Henry said he was glad the community could come together spur of the moment.



After allowing the crowd a few minutes of silence to reflect on the events, Peter Vanmuylder, who organized the event, addressed the crowd.

“We are all outraged, sickened and overwhelmed by these recent attacks on Paris and around the world.”

President Barack Obama called the crimes an attack on humanity, and promised to offer France, America’s oldest ally, whatever assistance it needs in combating terrorism. 

Vanmuylder said it is difficult to stay quiet and sit still in the aftermath of acts against humanity, which is why everyone gathered Sunday night.

Vanmuylder said he immediately spoke with his family and friends overseas when he found out about the attacks. After contacting a couple of friends, he said he put together the event. Sixteen hours later, it became a reality.

“I was in shock,” Vanmuylder said. “I had to do something.”

Signs were hung around the pavilion for people to express their feelings in writing.

One person wrote, “There is no separation. One people. One world.” Another wrote, “Love is greater than fear. May we stand united in love.”

Vanmuylder is a Belgian-American citizen who spent a few months living and working in Paris, and French is his second language. Though he has lived in America for 10 years, he goes back to Europe as often as possible. He said Friday’s attacks, as well as the January shooting that killed 12 members of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, have instilled fear in Parisians.

“When fear sets in, you are paralyzed,” Vanmuylder said. “That fear makes people hide.”

He said he does not have answers on how to combat fear, but believes unity and compassion are a good start. Vanmuylder said he believes people hold the power.

“This is not about politics. It’s not about religion either, this is just people,” Vanmuylder said. “We are all one people. We have to say ‘Stop it, we can’t stand it anymore.'”

Vanmuylder said citizens must do something to make the world better, with the community gathering being a step in the right direction.

“Our solidarity makes a difference in the face of fear, violence and terrorism,” Vanmuylder said. 

Sydney Schneider, a sophomore from Houston studying rehabilitation services, said she is sad there is so much hatred and injustice in the world.

“Just because I’m [thousands of] miles away, I still support France,” she said.

Anna Spoerre can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3325