Once a year for eight years now I’ve volunteered at the annual Writer’s Luncheon put on by the National Kidney Foundation. I’m an ‘author’s assistant,’ meaning I help with the line of people who want their books signed. This year I sat with one of our few generally-agreed-upon American heroes. Helping him didn’t give me quite the literary buzz of earlier years when I’ve assisted Michael Chabon (I helped him in 2007, the year he donated his ten-minute speech to a new politician he thought was worth backing in the primaries—Barak Obama) or, another year, the serene presence of Tobias Wolff, but Sully had his own energy that was great to be close to. He’s tall, with ramrod posture and an easy smile, and seemed to find time for all the people who wanted to discuss their son the pilot or get their picture taken with him.
Captain Sullenberger used his ten-minute talk to extol the virtues of the people he’d written about in his book Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America's Leaders. He’s an excellent public speaker, and his talk was warmly received. Several people came up with well-worn hardcover copies of his first book, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, lauding his candor and perspective.
After lunch I asked him if people had wanted him to go into politics and he answered with a guarded ‘yes,’ one that didn’t invite follow-on. Like Eisenhower after World War II, I’m sure both parties pursue him doggedly. For entities never mentioned in the US Constitution, our two major political parties have ingrained themselves deeply into our society, almost like rival gangs. In our ongoing conversation, he showed an extremely high regard for science, which might put him in the Democratic column, but he’d have my support no matter which party he ran with. “Captain Sully” is a truly impressive man.
Causes Kevin Arnold Supports
Poetry Center San Jose, East Palo Alto Police Activities League (EPA PAL), Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Yale Writing Conference, Gold Rush Writers