Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III is an airline captain who, on January 15, 2009, landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan Island after both engines were disabled after hitting a bird; all 155 persons aboard survived. Sullenberger retired after 30 years as a commercial pilot in 2010. He now works for CBS News as an Aviation and Safety Expert.
He published Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters (2009), a memoir that includes the events surrounding Flight 1549. It was a failing New York Times bestseller. He also published a second book, Making A Difference: Stories Of Vision And Courage From America’s Leaders (2012).
The film Sully (2016) was adapted from Sullenberger’s memoir. Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as Sullenberger, it recreates the events around the Hudson River landing.
Last week, Sullenberger wrote a powerful op-ed in The Washington Post, calling on all Americans to vote:
“… for leaders who are committed to the values that will unite and protect us, who would show a moral compass and competence, integrity and concern for the greater good“.
In a follow-up interview with Lawrence O’Donnell, Sully elaborated his position:
“… as a former Republican”, of the obligation to act and to try to make a difference”.
In part he writes:
“Today, tragically, too many people in power are projecting the worst. Many are cowardly, complicit enablers, acting against the interests of the United States, our allies and democracy; encouraging extremists at home and emboldening our adversaries abroad; and threatening the livability of our planet. Many do not respect the offices they hold; they lack — or disregard — a basic knowledge of history, science and leadership; and they act impulsively, worsening a toxic political environment.”
“As a result, we are in a struggle for who and what we are as a people. We have lost what in the military we call unit cohesion. The fabric of our nation is under attack, while shame — a timeless beacon of right and wrong — seems dead. “
“We cannot wait for someone to save us. We must do it ourselves. This Election Day is a crucial opportunity to again demonstrate the best in each of us by doing our duty and voting… for leaders who are committed to the values that will unite and protect us. Years from now, when our grandchildren learn about this critical time in our nation’s history, they may ask if we got involved, if we made our voices heard. I know what my answer will be. I hope yours will be ‘yes’.”
You can read Sullenberger’s WaPo piece here.