U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Friday expressed U.S. solidarity with France in the wake of the worst terrorist attacks here in decades, calling it a “living nightmare.”
Speaking in English and French, Kerry, who along with other U.S. officials had skipped a massive unity march here last Sunday, said his visit was meant to show solidarity but also to highlight “the sheer horror and revulsion that all Americans felt for the cowardly and despicable act.”
Kerry’s mother was born in Paris to American parents, and he talked about her experience fleeing to the U.S. after the Nazi occupation -- when the family’s home was destroyed -- and returning years later to show him the destruction, one of his earliest memories.
“No nation knows better than France that liberty has a price,” Kerry said.
He said the recent attacks posed a problem not just for Jews but for Muslims and the rest of the population here and in the U.S.
“We are all in the same boat, and we have to save ourselves from this crisis,” Kerry said.
Kerry said he came to meet with the families of the 17 victims of the attacks and to honor those slain. Earlier, he visited and placed wreaths at the sites of the attacks at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.
Though the attacks have stirred political debates, he said, “we simply will not descend into despair. We will turn this moment of profound loss into a lasting commitment ... to defend the values our societies cherish and extremists fear the most: tolerance, freedom, truth.”