Indulge me for a moment. I have a confession to make.
I have a new role model of sorts, and it’s Captain Chesley Sullenberger. Perhaps it’s the times, but I find myself involuntarily welling up with emotion and admiration whenever I see a news report about that US Air flight and Captain Sullenberger. And hearing the poise and calm exhibited in those cockpit recordings has vindicated my reactions.
I don’t know the captain and I probably never will, but from what I learned since watching that US Air jet floating perfectly and safely in the Hudson River is that this is an American hero who deserves every accolade he’s receiving and many more — and those accolades still don’t seem to adequately reward the depth of his quiet heroism.
But it’s not just about that perfect landing. It’s also about the quiet heroism part.
In a time when it’s increasingly difficult to consistently rely upon the character of anyone outside of one’s own friends and family, this man has performed his job perfectly and precisely, with grace, modesty and discipline.
Even in the aftermath, he’s not demanding applause or craving attention. It’s a rare thing in this age for someone of his acclaim to deliberately avoid cheapening his miraculous achievement with the ubiquitously available reality television exploitation offered to lesser people who too predictably seek attention when the merit of their story is dubious at best.
And even though it’s unlikely he’ll ever see this, I’d like to offer a belated “thank you” to the captain for, naturally, saving those 155 lives, but also for reminding me that there still exist people who can rise to the occasion — who can, indeed, surpass expectations, both in their jobs and in their lives. People of character.
Thank you, Captain.