Get ready to get hit in the feels. After Austrian and German officials authorized the entry of weary refugees from Hungary on Friday, both countries were flooded by thousands of men, women, and children who had already traversed the nearly nine-hour expanse between Budapest's Keleti train station and the Austrian town of Nickelsdorf on foot. Several thousand additional refugees were later bussed in by Hungarian authorities as well, overwhelming the border city as the refugees waited to be transferred to Vienna and Munich by train. By mid-afternoon, thousands of Twitter users had rallied around the #RefugeesWelcome hashtag to show support for the incoming migrant population.
"I couldn't love the Germans any more," tweeted one user, remarking on the scores of applauding German citizens who turned up at a Munich train station to welcome incoming refugees who had traveled from Hungary. Some of the citizens had brought along water and supplies to distribute to the families and individuals, and the BBC reported that one young boy was even handing out sweets to the refugee children.
"I feel [at] home," refugee Ayaz Morad told BBC reporters. "This is a great land — nice people, nice government."
Many of the exhausted refugees waved and smiled, likely relieved by a German declaration in late August which suspended European Union's Dublin Regulation, which dictates that refugees must remain in the first European country they enter as they wait to receive asylum. Instead, German officials stated that any Syrian refugee making their way from Hungary or Austria would be allowed to stay and apply for asylum there.
On Twitter, the global community celebrated the arrivals accordingly:
The massive wave of refugees was quick to thank their gracious hosts as well:
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on Friday urged the United States government to offer to take in some 65,000 refugees by 2016, following in the footsteps of his European counterparts.
"Americans are a generous and compassionate people, but today our policies are falling short of those values," said O'Malley in a statement. "We must do more to support Syrian refugees ... If Germany — a country with one-fourth our population – can accept 800,000 refugees this year, certainly we — the nation of immigrants and refugees - can do more."