Small, emotional vigil held downtown to remember Paris terrorism victims

Army veteran Andy Adams invited the community to downtown Hollister for a vigil honoring victims of terrorist attacks in Paris
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Andy Adams, an Army veteran who served in the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq in 2009-10 and Afghanistan in 2011-12, said he felt he had to do something to honor those who were killed in Paris last week by ISIS terrorists. So, he and his wife, Ashley, their four young children, and Ashely’s sister, Emily, put out the word on Facebook to anyone who wanted to join them Thursday night downtown to pay tribute to those people from 31 countries who were killed on the streets of Paris.

A peace sign in the shape of the Eiffel Tower was created using cups and candles on the city-owned lot at the corner of Fourth and San Benito streets.

“I wanted to show support for the victims to terrorist attacks over the recent months, and particularly for those in Paris,” Adams said. “I’m a veteran and I was shocked by the images I saw on television. It just reminded me of a place that was so foreign and far away for me. Seeing it on television like that brought up a lot of old feelings. So, I just wanted to do something positive because there’s so much negative stuff in the news.”

Emily Cooklin said she designed the flyer for the vigil at Adams' request.

“I’ve seen everyone posting about praying for Paris and just being there for everyone,” she said. “I thought it was a good thing.”

After Adams read a passage by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:"Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that."

Then he added: "Thank you for joining us tonight as we not only pray for Paris, but as we pray for the world. Tonight is not a night for political discussion, but a night to cooperatively show our support for the victims of the world's most recent tragedies. As we stand her tonight and offer our thoughts and prayers, may we continue to always pray for peace around the world."

There was a moment of silence, as traffic raced along San Benito Street, and those inside were unaware of the solemn little vigil being played out on the grassy square.

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]