by: Sam’s A Fan:

Manhattan’s West Side –

We’ve had Miracle on 34th Street, Miracle on Ice and on Thursday afternoon, January 15, 2009 we experienced the Miracle on the Hudson.

By any account Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III’s ability to safely bring down the wounded Airbus 320 and his efforts, along with those of his cockpit crew and the flight attendants, to ensure that all those aboard US Air Flight 1549 would improbably live to see another sunrise was indeed miraculous!

Browsing Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition, a number of good definitions of the word “Hero” can be found and using this dictionary as my source I find nothing in it that would deny that Sully Sullenberger and his crew are not real heros.  “A mythological  or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.”  Yeah, that works.  “A man admired for his achievements or noble qualities.” Definitely!  “One that shows great courage.” There is no doubt.

I have noticed and been more than a little annoyed in recent years at the media and society’s predilection for labeling any person who has experienced any event that is in the least bit undesirable as a hero.  In fact this habit has been taken so far I would not be surprised if over the recent holiday travel season some network news correspondent filing a remote story from the airport did not refer to the hapless holiday travelers experiencing the unavoidable weather delay as heros of the holiday.  People who survive horiffic events or circumstances may be heroic in their ability to go on afterwards, but their having experienced them is not in itself heroic, except in the sense of the secondary definition of the word hero as defined by Mssrs. Merriam and Webster “The central figure in an event, period or movement.”  The firemen who pulled the family to safety from the raging inferno are heros, the family rescued by these brave men and women and whose safety and long life to come is the answer to our prayers, are not.

Athletes and those in the world of sports are not heros, unless they are like Michael Matz, Olympic Equestrian and trainer of Barbaro, who became a hero not for representing his country and bringing the world of thoroughbred racing an amazing athlete who thrilled and inspired millions, but for surviving a plane crash and going back into the wreckage to rescue a young brother and sister who would have otherwise perished.  Or like Kevin Garnett who is a hero not for playing the game like a future hall of famer and for bringing Celtic Pride back to the city of Boston, but for quietly without seeking any press has been working to rebuild houses for victims of hurricane Katrina.  The great athletes who become the focus of so much of our time and energy as we follow their careers and live and die with their on field exploits are our heros for the way in which they inspire us and fuel our imaginations as to what we might be if we don’t accept other’s limitations, but that heroism is linked more to us as fans than it is to the object of our admiration.  This can be easily borne out  by how quickly these same heros become the goat and the target of our wrath when they watch the third strike go by or throw an interception that loses the game.

Our obsession with our favorite sports stars and the media’s obsession with any victim that can provide a story with legs and ratings potentiality cheapens what it means to be a real hero.  Yesterday the men and women who failed to get their charges on Flight 1549 to their intended destination, but through their courage, abilities, nobility and strength got their charges safely home gave all of us the great gift of allowing us to be witness to the Miracle on the Hudson.  In doing so they inspired us, moved us and reminded us that there are no limits beyond what we can imagine so long as we don’t accept other’s limitations as to what is possible, and for that I thank them and I thank the divine, in what ever form it may take for you and for me, from whom Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III and his crew so clearly descended.

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