Feb 19, 2013

HEROES in Life and in Literature

On a teacher workday last week, a friend and I took our kids to the newly renovated Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, NC. I went hoping for an interesting experience that would entertain my boys (and hopefully teach them something), and neither I nor my boys were disappointed. The museum’s presentation of aviation history is impressive, as are the many different types of aircraft on display. But their newest exhibit made the biggest impression on us all.

In August, the museum added an exhibit that focuses on United Airlines Flight 1549—otherwise known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane. The actual Airbus A-320 is there in the hangar, with an extensive exhibit focusing on the events of January 15, 2009, as well as a video featuring key people involved in the crash and rescue effort. Passengers’ belongings recovered from the bottom of the Hudson are on display, and storyboards explaining every detail surround the plane.  

As we explored the exhibits and watched the video, I gained a much deeper understanding of this incredible story than what I had read online or watched on the news. It truly was a “miracle” that the plane landed safely on the water, and these were real people who were miraculously scooped out of an icy river in the dead of winter! And so many heroes were made on that day—Captain Chesley Sullenberger and his First Officer Jeff Skiles, of course—but also the flight crew, ferry captains, rescue workers, etc.

This caused me to start thinking about heroes, and how they inspire us—in life and in literature. Our heroes are sometimes people we know in real life (like influential relatives or friends) or people we count on to protect us (like those in the military or police, firefighters, etc.). However, some of the most inspiring heroes are found in the pages of books; a spider named Charlotte, for example, who gave up everything to save a friend, or the Pevinsie children in the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, who restored order and beauty to a cold, barren world, just to name a few.

Whether we meet them in life or in books, our heroes inspire us to be better, work harder, and aim higher. And they plant tiny seeds within us that can grow into stories, articles, poetry, songs, or books. I am not sure yet exactly how, but I am certain that our afternoon at the museum will contribute to something I will eventually write—something that is now just a tiny speck of inspiration deep within me.
So think about your own personal heroes the next time you sit down to write, and take the time to discover where that inspiration can take you. And THANK YOU to all of the “real life” heroes out there!  

Since this is a blog for writers, I feel obligated to mention that Captain Chesley Sullenberger currently has two books available, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters and Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America's LeadersI have not read either one yet, but they look interesting! Also, if you live near Charlotte, NC or are ever in the area, check out the Carolinas Aviation Museum. It is definitely worth the time!  http://www.carolinasaviation.org/


  1. I think both you and your boys would love Richard Peck's ON THE WING OF HEROES. Ties up many of the themes of your post and is a wonderful MG besides.

  2. Thanks so much for the suggestion, Mirka! We have not read that one yet, and will need to find something new once we finish the Harry Potter series (we are reading book 6 now). I love Richard Peck!

  3. Dear Becky,
    My husband, Carl and I love the Aviation Museum. We haven't been since it was remodeled. Carl wants to wait until warmer weather. I enjoyed watching the planes take off near the old one.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    Celebrate you.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

    1. Thank you, Joan! I hope you are able to visit soon!


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