From Norwich, a spontaneous tribute to the horrors in Paris

vigil for webWith a series of clicks, the steps of Jackman Hall flickered to life in blue, white, and red cups as candles illuminated a gathering of Norwich students and the mournful notes of taps played in the background.

The Paris attacks claimed the lives of 129 and left 352 wounded. Five Norwich seniors who were studying abroad — Pablo Rosende, Angelica Sposato, Kevin Stupak, Lauren Burns, and Dylan Woodrow — had met up in Paris that day. They quickly confirmed their safety on social media.

At Norwich, doing their small part to pay tribute after the horrific shootings in Paris, France, on the night of Nov. 13, the crowd stood lost in thought and silence long after the last note of the bugle had faded into the night.

It began as a spur of the moment idea by Patrick Millington, 19, a sophomore electrical and computer engineering major from Clifton Park, N.Y.
 Millington gathered initial inspiration for the vigil as a way of returning the favor for support shown from the French toward the United States after the events of 9/11.

“It seemed an injustice to not to do the same, and give something back,” said Millington. 
Norwich University may be thousands of miles away from the site of attacks, but Millington said, “knowing there are international students on campus, and officers from France, I felt as though it was the least we could do as a campus to reach out to them.”

The idea was planned quickly and the supplies were cheap, but the result was incredibly moving. Covering all nine steps of Jackman, rows of nine cups each were aligned to create the tricolor stripes in the French flag.
 Made in an assembly line process by fellow members of NU’s Band Company, cups wrapped in bags of blue came first, clear cups were displayed center, and red, Saran-wrap covered cups finished out the flag on the right, each with a small candle floating in water.

“Candle-lit vigils have always been touching to me and seemed to fit,” explained Millington. Thanks to the use of social media, word of the ceremony spread quickly and before long, students and faculty were standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the steps, including the university president, multiple ROTC officers, and the French exchange officers being hosted on campus.

Taylor Nesbit, 19, a sophomore history major from Wall, N.J., was present for the ceremony and explained the reason for the vigil, and the size of the crowd; “We are a collective, therefore, we mourn together.”
“It’s 100 percent not about the recognition,” said Millington, “it’s about what it was for and who it stood for. I hope it’s a source of inspiration for them, and although we are across the sea and on a college campus, we still stay in touch with the world.”

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