San Francisco holds day of remembrance for Paris attack victims

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Paris and San Francisco are sister cities and on Sunday afternoon, French diplomats and San Francisco officials held a day of remembrance at City Hall at 3 p.m.

It was supposed to be a rally to show solidarity with France, but it was more like a quiet, emotional gathering of Bay Area French residents, visitors and their friends

A few hundred people came together at the steps of San Francisco City Hall.

Several people signed messages on a poster board, but most stood silent as fellow country men and women came together to mourn what has happened back home.

Among those who attended the rally was French Consul General Pauline Carmona.

"All the American citizens and everyone here from all over the world, I want to say thank you. Thank you for all your support in such a difficult moment," she said.

A teacher who is in San Francisco on a field trip with 32 students led the crowd in the French national anthem.

The Consul General's office will have a condolence book available for people to sign at their offices in the Financial District on Monday.

On Saturday night, there was a vigil to honor the victims.

PHOTOS: Tributes to Paris from around the world

People held candles and wrote out messages. Dianne Galliani and Michael Wright from Daly City remember one of their first trips to Paris, where Michael proposed.

"Everybody loves Paris, whether you've been there or not. It's just that kind of a city, our sister city," Diane said.

This is an international crowd expressing global solidarity.

"Of course, it's a beautiful city. But I think the most difficult part is that it could happen anywhere. It just, like innocent people going to a concert or a restaurant," Danish student Michala Kragmann said.

VIDEO: France mourns 129 people killed in Paris

But several among the group are French exchange students. They're here to feel just a little closer to home.

Many spent the last day combing through social media to make sure friends and family are safe. "On Facebook, you had an application that people in Paris had to put, I'm safe, I'm safe, I'm at home," exchange student Gaelle Palluel said.

Just a few blocks away at the Westin Saint Francis Hotel, French actor Gilles Marini was among those being honored at the 2015 Hellenic Ball.

He says people are shell-shocked but they cannot stay afraid. "French people need to stand up and sprint towards freedom. They need to gain back that again. Because you gotta go to a soccer game, you gotta go to a club when you're 20 years old," he said.

The former soldier and firefighter says he was in tears because of what he saw outside his hotel room window. "I looked up and I'm like, wow," he said.

He tweeted a simple message: "Thank you San Francisco. My heart is crying, but I know that the #USA will always be there for France. #Allies."

For full coverage on the attacks in Paris, click here.
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