Made in the U.S.A.
Captain Sullenberger represents the best of leadership at a time when it is sorely needed. Our nation is divided and polarized. Many of us are angry over lost homes, lost jobs, and a lost sense of faith in our leaders. Too rarely do we see the kind of selflessness that was displayed by Captain Sullenberger and his crew during their impromptu descent onto the Hudson River last January. The rarity of such a courageous display makes us all the more eager to celebrate it.
No less impressive is the sheer competence of the captain and his crew. We all complain about products, workmanship, and service that are less than first-rate. We seem to take shoddy quality as a given these days. Small wonder, then, that we embrace the story of a pilot who brought a disabled jet down onto a river with no loss of life. He didn't just elevate the public's opinion of the airline industry; he also restored pride in the skill of American workers.
And, remarkably, he did it under the gun. It's one thing to show leadership in an incremental fashion, as a business person or a politician might over a long period of time. But Captain Sullenberger's quick reactions and bravery in a potentially disastrous situation spelled the difference between death and survival for the 155 people on his plane. He did what a great leader must always do; he made the well-being of others his No. 1 concern.
We admire the captain also because he seems a genuinely modest man. He isn't clamoring for credit and attention. In fact, he has routinely deflected the praise toward his crew members. True, Captain Sullenberger has published a book and made some TV appearances, but these efforts have been on a small scale compared with the rush to celebrity that we're used to seeing from people with far less interesting stories to share.
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