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France Holds Memorial Service 2 Weeks After Attacks

By Laura Wagner | NPR
Friday, November 27, 2015

France paid homage today to those who died in terrorist attacks in Paris two weeks ago. The names of the 130 people killed were read at a national memorial service at a historic military building in Paris called Les Invalides.

President Francois Hollande delivered a speech, saying France would continue to defend the values for which the victims were killed.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reported that the national ceremony began with the French anthem, La Marseillaise. After the music, pictures of the victims, the majority of whom were under 25, were shown on a giant screen as their names and ages were announced.

In his speech, Hollande said France is at war against ISIS; he has been traveling the world to convince nations to join the intensifying fight. Just yesterday, in what was seen as a major accomplishment, Hollande secured Russian President Vladimir Putin's agreement that Russia would focus its airstrikes on ISIS, not opposition groups in Syria.

More than 1,000 people attended the memorial, including including survivors, families of the victims, and members of the government, as well as the political opposition. Basically, Eleanor said, politics were put aside as France remembered the dead.

On NPR's Morning Edition, Eleanor said there has been a surge of patriotism in France:

"Hollande asked people to display the flag in their homes. Now, the French have a completely different relationship with flag than Americans. In France, it's something on public buildings and maybe sporting events, but to personally wave it is considered something the far right does. But they can't sell enough of them now."

"They say the flag is imbued with new meaning; it means togetherness, not military conquest or politics. ... And there's been a lot of people joining the army as well, just like after 9/11 in the U.S., a huge burst of patriotism, people who want to defend their nation and their way of living."

Meanwhile, there are reports that a man arrested today in Stuttgart, Germany, sold weapons to the Paris attackers, but authorities have not commented on the alleged connection.

Esme Nicholson reports for NPR that police say a 34-year-old man was arrested on suspicions of arms trading, but declined to comment on media reports suggesting the suspect is linked to the Paris attacks.

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