Sunday, January 18, 2009

Proud to be an (Italian) American

I don't like to fly. Tossed in that giant bag with water, extra reading material and a clean pair of socks is my old rosary beads. I'll be frank. I don't like to fly and I am superstitious about flying as well. So, I bring the beads and I hold them during take off and landing. I am willing to wing it during the flight simply because I've fallen asleep on my rosary beads in the past and woke up with the imprint of the miraculous mother across my cheek. How much do you want to bet that someone on the US Airways flight that went down on the Hudson was holding rosary beads? Following six months of bad news, the survival of 155 passengers after an emergency landing on the Hudson River has a way of making Americans feel like maybe our luck is changing. We feel proud that the "system worked", feel secure in knowing that trained professionals were, well, professional. No Katrina-like "It wasn't really our responsibility" or Federal-Reserve like "the stimulus plan should have improved the economy". Yes, I am proud to be an American. After crashing into the Hudson, the passengers emptied onto the wings of the plane and in minutes, ferry boats arrived to assist in the rescue.

Ferryboats on the Hudson River haul people back and forth from Staten Island, New Jersey and between boroughs. It is the busiest ferry route in the world. Fortunately, New York ferry boat captains are willing to pick up passengers from the wing of a plane in the middle of a river, in arctic cold and during rush hour without feeling the need to consult with anyone in the chain of command. Vincent Lombardi was captain of the first ferry boat to arrive, Brittany Catanzaro, age 20, was captain of the second boat to the rescue and the third boat was led by Captain Vince Lucante. The alarm was sounded by New York Waterways Safety Director, Robert Matticola and additional boats as well as the Coast Guard joined the ferry boats. All 155 passengers were rescued within minutes by the kind of folks we don't take much notice of on a regular day. Regular Americans. Italian Americans.