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Hundreds in US pay tribute to French train heroes

12 september 2015, 16:32
0
Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler wave to a cheering crowd during a celebration honoring them in Sacramento, California. ©AFP
Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler wave to a cheering crowd during a celebration honoring them in Sacramento, California. ©AFP

Hundreds of people waving American flags lined the streets of Sacramento on Friday to pay tribute to three local heroes who helped thwart a train attack in France, AFP reports.

Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos, who grew up in the capital of the western state of California, smiled as they stood atop a tank decorated with balloons that slowly made its way through downtown toward the state Capitol.

"This is overwhelming. It's an amazing feeling right now," Sadler told AFP. "You French people, we love you."

Stone, his left thumb still bandaged after it almost got sliced off during the August 21 incident, vowed to go back to the City of Lights with his buddies.

"We are coming back as soon as we can," he said. "Maybe for the trial, if they want us to come back."

The trio, who have been friends since school, were awarded France's Legion of Honor, the country's highest decoration, for their role in subduing a gunman on a packed train headed from Amsterdam to Paris.

Skarlatos -- a member of the Oregon National Guard who had recently completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan -- will also receive the US Army's highest honor for non-combat activities.  

"We need more people like them," said Mark Emmett as he stood under a scorching sun to honor the three men.

"They are role models for the next generation and what it means to protect our country," echoed Stacy Easterling, 30, who is married to a soldier and was at the parade with her son.

Friday's ceremony also included a commemoration for victims of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.

Many of those at the parade were visibly moved by the ceremony and some held back tears.


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