How utterly heart-warming to read of a few brave men who tackled a lone gunman on the high-speed train bound for Paris. Without hesitation or concern for their own safety, four men pounced on the would-be mass murderer, and disabled him in a choke-hold before ‘pistol-whipping’ him into abject surrender.
A tale that stirs the soul; reinvigorates ones sapping belief in human nature and makes us immensely proud of the men and women protecting all of our freedoms throughout the globe.
And then the media just had to ruin it! It is of course entirely forgivable to mistakenly accredit the role of these passenger’s saviours to ‘off duty Marines’ (always sounds good doesn’t it?) We now know that these heroes were a National Guardsman, a US airman, an American student (a friend travelling with his US military friends) a British granddad and IT specialist (go geeks!), and some more – as yet unidentified – ‘civilian’ passengers.
Shot in the neck, a thumb almost sliced-off and stabbed, these incredibly brave and selfless individuals will rightly soon be the latest of France’s highest bravery award – the Legion d’honneur.
But wait – what’s that – a ‘celebrity’ was on the train…?
Picture the photo montage; bleeding hero on a stretcher, smashed glass, heavily armed security personnel, numerous magazines of AK47 rounds…and a smiling photograph of everyone’s favourite French actor – Jean-Hughes Anglade.
Venerable media outlets such as the BBC and The Telegraph regaled us with tales of his derring-do – suffering (minor) injury as he bravely smashed the glass of the emergency alarm. Come on! He was dragged even further away from the action before activating the alarm in the baggage compartment!
I have absolutely no doubt that the man was petrified – I would have been too; but what about the plight of families on board – or of the train staff on board? Now if he had rushed into the melee to assist in subduing this lunatic, THAT would be newsworthy. But smashing the alarm?
I dread to think of the hysteria caused if One Direction were on the train (although I note with unabridged pleasure the rumours of their impending disbandment). Is our thirst for celebrity so insatiable that we care more for stories of human magnificence if we are able to link it to glitz and glamour?
I rather think it is the media’s patronising view on our thirst for gossip; and I for one will thank them for crediting the populace with a tad more respect – and pay due attention to the real heroes of this story.
I will observe the forthcoming celebrations at the Elysee Palace with pride and thanks; but if there is even a hint of celebrity I may just puke.
Is it just me? Do you find the whole celebrity angle a little nauseating, too? Or does the presence of a well-known individual add gravitas to the tale? Let everyone know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Matt is a columnist and author on all things freelance, engineering and consultancy – with rants and thought-provoking observations thrown in for good measure. He also runs a freelance consultancy in Lincoln; fulfilling his lifelong ambition to be his own boss after 16 years serving in both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. His consultancy attracts and employs high quality engineers alongside the finest defence and business professionals. Matt is a Chartered Engineer, and avid reader and huge football fan.