Monday, February 16, 2009


Captain Chesley Sullenberger III.  Not exactly the name that one would expect of a hero.  Perhaps that's why his nickname of "Sully" fit so aptly with the person we were introduced to on January 15.

Sullenberger, of course, was the captain of US Airways flight 1549, bound from New York's LaGuardia airport to Charlotte on a normal Thursday afternoon route for this relatively short flight.  But, as we all know, the flight didn't make it to Charlotte--it ended up in the Hudson River and Sully and  his crew became American heroes because they saved a flight full of people and, in the process, saved those travelers' families from becoming widows, widowers, children without parents, and children lost.

Sullenberger was recently asked about being a hero.  His quote said much about him, and perhaps about the state of our country right now.  Sully said, "At first it was very hard to accept.  It took a crew of five to accomplish this, and we were doing the job we were trained for.  At the same time I don't want to diminish people's gifts of thanks to me."

Perhaps it's because lately we have more fallen heroes than those who stay right side up--Alex Rodriguez being the latest example.  Maybe we are yearning for something to hold on to in the midst of an economic climate the likes of which we have not seen in generations.  Maybe it's because many of us travel and have now been reminded that our lives are in the hands of a pilot, co-pilot and crew when we cinch up our seatbelt on an airline.

Sullenberger is a reluctant hero but he seems to have grasped that many need him to be a 
hero--to give hope, to show that the stoic, unassuming guy "just doing his job" is something we see too little of in today's society.

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