Freed Hostage Gets Homespun Homecoming in Vt.

JERICHO, Vt. (AP) - A U.S. cargo ship captain who spent five days as a hostage of Somali pirates is giving thanks to his community for a hero's welcome a week after returning home.

Maersk Alabama skipper Richard Phillips addressed a crowd of about 500 people at a homecoming picnic on Saturday in Jericho, Vermont, near Underhill, where Phillips lives.

The 53-year-old mariner gave thanks to the U.S. military, his family, and his neighbors. He told the crowd: "This is a true American community, and a true caring for each other."

Phillips and his wife, Andrea, say they're grateful for the many letters of support they've received.

The event featured live music from local bands, and Vermont's governor declared the day "Captain Richard Phillips Day."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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