Did all us Americans feel pride when the three American heroes helped save hundreds of lives on the Thalys train in France? I certainly did! I think it was because the French have so often been critical of American behavior. From before the Vietnam war to their image of us as violent, primitive, egocentric and arrogant. For an interesting history and analysis of this resentment, you can read Sophie Meunier’s “Anti-Americanisms in France” in the European Studies Newsletter (2005)
Jean-Hugues Anglade, a French actor who’d been on the train and required stitches, said “We were incredibly lucky to have these American soldiers…without them we’d all be dead.” 
Especially nice for me was a Thank You email from a French friend we’ve seen before on this blog, Michèle L. Knowing full well that I had nothing to do with the bravery on the train, she wrote me: 
“Il faut que j’exprime à ma principale interlocutrice nord-américaine ma gratitude, qui est celle des Français en général, à l’égard de ses compatriotes qui ont permis d’éviter un massacre dans le train Thalys! Tu n’y es pas pour grand chose, mais quand même: on  a envie de dire merci à ces gens si courageux et tu es chargée de le faire pour moi (je ne sais pas où ils sont!)……..”
I myself feel a similar appreciation for the soldiers who protect the ‘good guys’ around the world.
This entry was posted in French-American relations, Légion d'honneur, News from France and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Bonnie Brower says:

    Bonjour Susan,
    As an American living in southwest France, I followed the news of the Thalys event with great interest and pride. A day or so after, at least two French friends came up to me after mass at the 12th century church across the street and expressed their thanks to me! One even greeted me, in English, with “Long live America!”. How’s that for international relations!


  2. Susan says:

    Wright Salisbury sent this comment by email:

    “About our brave lads who foiled the gunman on the TGV, I’m glad they were soldiers and knew how to react to the situation, and I’m glad the gunman’s gun jammed. About the belief in the hostility of the French toward Americans, we haven’t encountered anything of the sort in four years of living there almost full-time. They all seem to be lovely, friendly, and far more civilized than the Americans I’ve been seeing on the campaign trail. Of course, running for public office seems to bring out the worst in us.”


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