Several heroes have emerged in modern Paris, demonstrating exceptional valor and humanity. Here, we celebrate five of these Parisian heroes who’ve left an indelible mark on the city’s tapestry.
- Arnaud Beltrame (1973-2018) Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame became a national hero after a terror attack in the small southern town of Trèbes in 2018. During the attack, he offered himself as a hostage to save a woman’s life. Despite being gravely injured during the operation, his selfless bravery prevented further casualties. France mourned his passing but celebrated his valiant spirit, exemplifying the best of humanity in the face of profound darkness.
- Mamoudou Gassama (1996-present) Dubbed the “Spider-Man of Paris”, Mamoudou Gassama, a young Malian immigrant, made headlines in 2018 when he scaled an apartment building with his bare hands to rescue a child dangling from a balcony. His fearless act, captured in a viral video, not only saved the child but also altered the trajectory of his own life. Recognizing his bravery, French President Emmanuel Macron offered Gassama French citizenship and a role in the city’s fire brigade.
- Lassana Bathily (1990-present) During the 2015 terrorist attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in eastern Paris, Lassana Bathily, a Muslim employee, demonstrated incredible heroism. Risking his life, Bathily hid customers in a freezer, ensuring their safety during the hours-long standoff. His courageous actions saved many lives, and he was later awarded French citizenship in a public ceremony.
- Franck, a Paris Firefighter Amidst the tragic flames that engulfed the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral in 2019, a firefighter named Franck risked his life to save two of the building’s irreplaceable relics: the Crown of Thorns and the Blessed Sacrament. Braving the flames and thick smoke, he and his team prevented these invaluable artifacts from being lost to history.
- Zouheir, a Security Guard Zouheir, a Muslim security guard at the Stade de France, played a pivotal role during the November 2015 Paris attacks. He detected an explosive on one of the attackers, preventing what could have been a much more catastrophic event inside the packed stadium. Although many details about that night remain confidential, Zouheir’s role was crucial in averting a higher death toll.
These heroes, emerging from different walks of life, epitomize the resilient spirit of Paris. Their tales underscore that heroism doesn’t always wear a cape; sometimes, it’s a spontaneous act, driven by an inherent call to protect, serve, and uplift humanity.