Vive la France !

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It is altogether fitting for Latvians to extend sympathy to fellow Europeans when they are attacked.

Latvians Show Solidarity with France by Laying Flowers at the French Embassy

By Charles Kelley

RIGA, Latvia – Two days ago, the world was shocked as 129 people were killed in several coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris.

Notice the French flag above (right) is unfurled...not freely flying.
Notice the French flag above (right) is unfurled…not freely flying.

Friday’s attacks, claimed by Islamic State (ISIS) militants, hit a concert hall, a major sports stadium, restaurants and bars in the French capital.  Another 350 people were wounded, 99 seriously so.

Messages of support and solidarity were proclaimed from leaders from all over the world.  These messages have been heavily publicized.

Not so broadly known are numerous sincere expressions of sympathy and support from average people.  One powerful example is here in Latvia.

After the bloodbath in Paris individual Latvians began to spontaneously place flowers, messages and candles outside the walls of the French Embassy in Riga. Yesterday at 4:00 pm about 200 gathered with flowers for a brief ceremony.

A handful of anti-immigrant protesters attempted to hold up placards during the course of the day but were told by police to move on.

I placed my roses underneath a drawing of a weeping Eiffel Tower.
I placed my roses underneath a drawing of a weeping Eiffel Tower.

France’s ambassador to Latvia, Stephane Visconti, expressed deep appreciation to the Latvians for their prayers and sympathies.

When I walked to the embassy this morning I brought a bouquet of red roses.  As I approached the multi-colored memorial, my heart was deeply touched.  It was clear that some of the drawings and messages were prepared by children.  As I placed my flowers under a poignant drawing of a weeping Eiffel Tower, I prayed for the families of the victims.

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By Sunday morning most candles had burned out, but some were still aglow.

Last week, and also sadly, I walked to the Russian Embassy a few days after its passenger plane was destroyed by an ISIS bomb in Egypt.  More than 200 were murdered.  As I lingered, I was deeply moved at the very many expressions of sympathy.

Latvia is no stranger to crimes against humanity.  It has been attacked and invaded again and again through the centuries.  Putin’s sabre rattling represents a ‘clear and present danger’ and is unsettling for Latvians today…to say the least.

A child drew this French flag with the words "Lativa Supports France".
A child drew this French flag with the words “Lativa Supports France”.

It is altogether fitting for Latvians to extend sympathy to fellow Europeans when they are attacked.  It was a privilege to join with them.

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Click here to see Chuck’s complete photo essay about laying flowers at the French Embassy.

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