This year there were no Bastille Day fireworks in the coastal French city of Nice.
On July 14, France collectively remembered the Nice terror attack, which took place exactly one year ago. 86 were killed when a terrorist drove a truck through the crowds assembled on the city’s famous waterside promenade to watch the Bastille Day fireworks. Among them were women, men, children; old and young, Nice residents and tourists, people of all faiths. More than 450 were injured. Among those killed were 37 foreigners from 19 countries.
At about 10:30 PM on July 14, 2016, a Nice resident of Tunisian origin, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, swerved and rammed a 19-ton rental truck on purpose into the throng of thousands of revelers on the sidewalk of Promenade des Anglais who had just finished watching the fireworks on Bastille Day, as the French National Day is popularly known. One third of the overall death toll were found to be Muslims.
With the sheer number of victims and families affected, the scars run deep. During the three-hour commemoration ceremony on Friday, President Emmanuel Macron and city mayor, Christian Estrosi, spoke. Macron acknowledged the anger felt by the people and vowed to fight terror. “This rage, I know, many of you still carry it in the pit of your stomach,” he said, “Everything will be done in order for the republic, the state and public authorities to regain your trust … We’ll respond by a fight without mercy outside and inside our borders against terrorism, everywhere.”
“My determination is total,” he said.
Among the dozens of dignitaries present there were also two of France’s former presidents, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, President’s wife Brigitte Macron and the Prince of Monaco. The names of all those died were read out loud and written on a board in the shape of a heart. The event also honored police officers, emergency paramedics and civilian Franck Terrier who tried to chase the truck on his scooter in a futile bid to stop it.