Wake County

Raleigh gathering mourns Parisian friend and other lost lives

Hundreds gather in Moore Square for French victims

Raleigh's French community gathers to mourn the victims of France's recent terrorist attacks, and honor SKEMA student Justine Moulin who died in Paris on Friday.
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Raleigh's French community gathers to mourn the victims of France's recent terrorist attacks, and honor SKEMA student Justine Moulin who died in Paris on Friday.

Parisian Justine Moulin, 23, was enjoying a meal at her favorite restaurant, Le Petit Cambodge, when she was shot during Friday’s terrorist attacks, which claimed the lives of 129 people.

Friends said Moulin, who attended SKEMA Business School in Paris, had planned to attend the college’s Raleigh campus, which is located at N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus.

“She was a wonderful person. She was always smiling. She wanted to travel the world,” said Julie de Mélo, a student at SKEMA Business School’s Raleigh campus and one of Moulin’s best friends. “She was too young to die.”

On Sunday, about 300 fellow students, French natives and Americans gathered at Moore Square to share a moment of silence in honor of those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks. Many people held the French flag.

Others signed or placed a painted hand print on a banner that said, “A notre Justine” – “To our Justine.” The banner lay on the lawn at Moore Square beneath French and American flags – a testament to the unity between the nations during this time of hardship.

“We are so touched, so moved that so many people came here today ... especially our American friends,” Marie-Claire Ribeill, honorary consul of France, told those gathered in Moore Square. “I think this is a testament to the friendship between France and America, that each time we have a moment of crisis, each time we all come together.

“We all protect each other. We all defend each other. We all support each other.”

De Mélo, a native of Paris, had encouraged her friend to attend the Raleigh campus of SKEMA, a global business school based in Paris. SKEMA established its first U.S. satellite campus in Raleigh in 2011 as “a gateway to the leading high-tech cluster in the U.S.”

The crowd honored those who died in Friday’s attacks with a moment of silence, then sang “La Marseillaise,” France’s national anthem, after a tribute to Moulin by de Mélo.

After the attacks, De Mélo said, she had to wait 15 hours before she received the news about her friend.

“My Justine, I love you profoundly, and you will always remain in a little part of my heart,” she said. “Wherever I will go, you will go with me, and everything that those barbaric people prevented you from living, you will live it too.”

Mourners return

Many of the same mourners who attended Sunday’s event shared a moment of silence at the same spot only 10 months earlier.

More than 100 people gathered at Moore Square in January to mourn the lives lost after gunmen hit the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 people.

“I would never have thought I would have to come back,” Ribeill said. “It’s just saddening and heartbreaking to have to come back, especially with so many deaths.”

Ribeill helped lead a march around Moore Square honoring all of the people from France, Libya, Kenya, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria who have been killed in terrorist attacks. Some marchers clutched signs that said “Pray for Paris” and “You can’t break us.”

“We are not just here to defend some values and ideals for France or the western countries but also for countries all over the world,” Ribeill said. “Those values are liberté, égalité, fraternité (freedom, equality and fraternity), and those special values that America always wants to bring everywhere – the idea that life, equality and the pursuit of happiness are values that everybody should have a right to.”

Liberté, égalité and fraternité – may those words resonate forever all over the world,” de Mélo said.

“We are not just here to defend some values and ideals for France or the western countries but also for countries all over the world,” Ribeill said. “Those values are ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ (freedom, equality and fraternity), and those special values that America always wants to bring everywhere – the idea that life, equality and the pursuit of happiness are values that everybody should have a right to.”

“‘Liberté, égalité and fraternité’ – may those words resonate forever all over the world,” de Mélo said.

Kathryn Trogdon; 919-460-2608; @KTrogdon

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