(P1) Three Americans and one Briton who prevented an attack on a crowded train in France have been awarded that country’s highest honor for their BRAVERY.

(P2) French president Francois Hollande presented each man with a LEGION OF HONOR medal at the Élysée Palace in Paris on Monday morning.

(P3) “The entire world admires your COURAGE, your SANGFROID, your spirit of SOLIDARITY,” Mr. Hollande said. “This is what allowed you to SUBDUE an armed man with your BARE HANDS. This must be an example for all, and a source of inspiration.”

(P4) The three Americans who received the medal are U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, 22; National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, 22; and their friend Anthony Sadler, 23. The men had been traveling through Europe on vacation and were among the 500 passengers on the train headed from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday. Also honored was Chris Norman, a 62-year-old businessman from England.

(P5) Skarlatos has said that it was a “GUT INSTINCT” that led him and his friends to act when they heard a gunshot and saw a man running through the corridor with a gun.

(P6) “(Skarlatos) just hit me on the shoulder and said ‘Let’s go,'” Stone told the Associated Press.

(P7) With the help of Norman and a French passenger who has asked to not be identified, the Americans TACKLED the heavily-armed gunman to the ground and took away his rifle.

(P8) French authorities ARRESTED the gunman, a 26-year-old Moroccan citizen, after the train was stopped.

(P9) Stone and two other passengers SUSTAINED INJURIES in the STRUGGLE. He was credited with saving one of those passengers who had been hit by a stray bullet. All three were transported to hospitals when the train made an emergency stop following the incident.

(P10) When Stone received his medal, he was still recovering from surgery following an injury to his thumb.

(P11) Since the attack, public figures from all over the world have expressed their gratitude to these men. U.S. President Barack Obama called the American citizens to COMMEND them on their bravery, and British Prime Minister David Cameron praised the “extraordinary courage of the passengers who INTERVENED.”

(P12) While many people may consider these otherwise ordinary men heroes, Sadler said that he and his two friends hope that people choose to focus on the lessons that can be learned from this ORDEAL.

(P13) “Hiding, or sitting back, is not going to accomplish anything,” Sadler told the AP. “And the gunman would’ve been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up. So I just want that lesson to be learned going forward, in times of terror like this, please do something. Don’t just stand by and watch.” 

WORDS: 439



If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What is the highest honor that you have ever personally received?
  3. What is the scariest situation that you have ever found yourself in?
  4. Have you ever handled a gun?
  5. Do you often rely on your “gut instinct”?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Bare hands
  • Gut instinct

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