In one week, Queens was touched by two miracles that brought reason for hope. First, a courageous airline captain and his crew took actions that saved 155 people and possibly more.
Everyone knows the story of how US Airways Pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made an emergency landing on the Hudson River. Had the captain tried to return to LaGuardia Airport, he would have put the lives of hundreds of Queens residents in danger. Had he not landed perfectly on the Hudson, his plane would have been ripped to pieces.
But the pilot is not the only hero. The flight attendants, overcoming their own fears, got the passengers safely out of the plane and onto the wings, where they stood waiting for help.
And every ferry boat on the river headed for the plane. The city Emergency Management Office made certain police, EMS and other rescue workers were there to care for the passengers as they were pulled to safety.
In a moment of crisis, everyone did the jobs they were trained to do and 155 people escaped disaster.
Five days later, the people of Queens would share in a greater miracle of national and historic importance as they watched the inauguration of President Barack Obama. It has been said over and over that the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has been realized in a way that many thought they would never see in their lifetime.
Indeed, many African Americans in Queens, especially those raised in the South, can still remember the sting of segregated schools, buses and neighborhoods.
But Inauguration Day was a day for all Americans to celebrate. There is reason to believe we can work together to solve the grave problems facing this nation.
The task facing Obama is large. In Queens and throughout America, people are hoping the new administration will find a way to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are hoping the new president will stop job losses, protect their savings and pensions and keep families in their homes.
Obama and his team are facing a monumental task, but for the moment they enjoy a spirit of unity and goodwill that is nothing short of a miracle.