Amazing Acts of Courage, Faith, and Care for Others



Sometimes you need to choose courage over comfort.  –Dr. Penny Wheeler                              CEO Allina Health

Choosing courage What do US Airways Flight 1549, the number 155, United Airlines Flight 93, and the Jacob Wetterling tragedy all have in common? They all represent and exhibit a deep and undeniable commitment to courage, faith, and caring for others.

If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this: You, my friend, are not that powerful.               –Helen Baylor

I have been reflecting on these dramatic and emotional events. They have moved the needle so to speak, in terms of what commitment looks like. I’m talking about wonders that make you sit back and reflect on things that really matter and that are far bigger than ourselves. There are remarkable qualities individuals have, qualities that are hard to define and truly understand, yet easily recognized and admired when you see them.

 When the porch light is finally turned off For 28 years, the Wetterling family kept their porch light on for the return of their son, Jacob, who was abducted by a stranger one night. That porch light symbolized their love, faith, and dream that he would safely return home. The family wanted Jacob to know that he was thought of constantly and had a loving family waiting for him. Their love was unwavering as they prayed for his return. Recently, we finally learned what happened to Jacob.

As a father and grandfather, I can’t comprehend how the Wetterlings have endured what they have for the last 28 years. In place of outward bitterness, the Wetterlings have acted with love and shown they have received the comfort and support not just from family and friends but from something far more powerful. The Bible tells us in 1 John 3 that we are children of God and that God bestows His love on us. I hope to learn from the Wetterlings’ remarkable example of how to live with grace, faith, and care as they have exhibited.

Flight 93 heroes On 9/11 after two hijacked jetliners crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, and another, American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into the Pentagon, there remained one more plane still in the air, United Airlines Flight 93. Hijackers charged the cockpit, took control of the plane and were in the process of changing course to head to the U.S. Capitol. The passengers, after making phone calls to their loved ones, realized what was going on and knew they had a choice: let fate take its course and likely die along with an untold number of others, or democratically vote to take control of the plane and get into that cockpit, not knowing what the result might be. We all know how it ended. I wonder how many of us have really thought about what went on in that plane during those last minutes. What were the discussions? What were the emotions?

I am in awe of the passengers’ (and flight crew’s) courage, bravery, and the incredible care they showed for others while making the ultimate sacrifice. If I had the opportunity to interview each of those passengers before the flight to dig into their beliefs and values, I am rather sure I would discover that what occurred on the plane was symbolic of how they lived their lives.

On September 11 of this year I watched a documentary narrated by Dana Perino, the former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I watched the video, seeing the crash site memorial and hearing from one of the passenger’s brothers. Flight 93 represents one of the most selfless demonstrations of courage I can think of. Take a moment and watch the video: Touring the Flight 93 National Memorial

155 Souls Recently, I went to see the movie Sully, the story of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and US Airways Flight 1549 that did not crash in the Hudson, but rather, landed on the Hudson (as clearly articulated by Captain Sullenberger).

While there were many aspects of the movie that struck me, some of the most memorable scenes were centered around Captain Sullenberger’s commitment and unwavering focus on the safety of his crew and passengers. From the moment that plane made an emergency landing on the Hudson, Captain Sullenberger did everything he could to personally see that everyone made it off the plane. We watch him conduct a search of the plane as others are imploring him to leave. He is reluctant, fearing that someone may still be on board. As he’s ushered away from the scene to the hospital he repeatedly asks about the passengers. Are they all safe? We feel the weight of his concern. Hours later as he finally receives official confirmation that all 155 passengers and crew made it safely off the plane, you can feel his burden being lifted. In the midst of being praised for a remarkable landing, Sully could think of nothing other than those 155 souls he was responsible for.

Later, after Captain Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles endured a grilling by a team of FAA investigators, one of them said that looking at all the facts, looking at all the scientific models, looking at all the computer simulations there was only one factor that made the difference, and that was Captain Sullenberger. Sully’s response? That it was the actions of his co-pilot, the flight attendants, the ferry boat operators and first responders, and the passengers themselves, that made the difference in everyone being able to walk off that plane.

As we live our lives, interact with others, and deal with our daily challenges I hope we can remember that each day is precious, each day is a gift, and each day is an opportunity to make others feel that they are the most special person in the room.

Honoring the Wetterlings, the passengers of Flight 1549 and Flight 93, and Captain Sullenberger


3 thoughts on “Amazing Acts of Courage, Faith, and Care for Others

  1. Add other attributes for the Sullenberger story.

    1. Faced with a huge decision, he took a few seconds to analyze and consider options.

    2. One of the things he did NOT do was forget to FLY THE AIRPLANE. Far too many pilots lose track of this ultimate priority–FLY THE AIRPLANE ALL THE WAY INTO THE CRASH. One of the “lucky” things he considered was that this aircraft was one of the few that was certified for long over-water flights–it had flotation equipment–but more important, it had an emergency wind-driven generator that would allow the controls to function. Sullenberger and Skiles deployed it.

    3. The time he took was only a precious few seconds–but was vital to the outcome. Once he had considered all of his options, the option to return to the airport and the option to divert to Teterboro were gone–while he COULD have made an immediate return to the airport or diverted, those actions would have resulted in great loss of life–in the air and on the ground.

    4. Once he had made his decision, he never looked back (perhaps until long afterward). Far too often, we engage in “what might have been.” This is REALITY–DEAL WITH IT!

    5. He made the best of a bad situation. He made a decision–and stuck with it. Far too often, people engage in wishful thinking–“I don’t WANT to go into the water!”

    6. He didn’t defer authority to others–not the FAA, not the controllers, not the NTSB. He asserted his command authority–the pilot has the ultimate responsibility. All too often, we ask others for help–when they can do nothing–only WE have the ability to help ourselves.

    7. He took responsibility for his own actions.

    These are the things that draw many of us to aviation. I don’t go to movies, but I believe that these underlying traits are what has made the story so compelling. There are life lessons here for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

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