Dear Readers: I published a letter (June 6) in which a reader, "Alison in Ashland, Ore.," asked you to name your heroes. She asked that they not be celebrities or family members. A tsunami of emails descended upon me -- many of them moving, thought-provoking and inspiring. I'm sorry that space limitations prevent me from printing more of them -- but I thank you ALL for your submissions. Read on:
Dear Abby: Captain C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger! A humble man, under intense pressure, who saved the lives of his entire U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on Jan. 15, 2009. After landing his Airbus in the Hudson River, he refused to leave his ship until all passengers and crew had disembarked. THAT is a true hero, someone going about his daily routine and doing something extraordinary.
-- Pamela F., Slingerlands, N.Y.
Dear Abby: I'm nominating two people: Stephen Hawking, who has overcome disastrous physical and medical problems to become the world's most prominent physicist, and Gustavo Dudamel, who has brought intense life to the L.A. Philharmonic and the renewal of symphonic music in general, having lifted to new heights Venezuela's "The Program," which gives all students in that country the opportunity to make music.
-- Nancy E., Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Dear Abby: My personal hero is Rosa Parks. I grew up in a racist household and was even beaten for disagreeing. But the courage it took for Rosa to sit down and refuse to get up moved mountains for me. I thank her with all my heart.
-- Kendra in Haiku, Hawaii
Dear Abby: My hero is Cesar Chavez. Before he came along, workers didn't even have a place to relieve themselves while working the fields under all weather conditions. He sacrificed his own health and his life to help their plight.
I read in our local newspaper where somebody referred to him as an illegal alien, although he was born in Arizona and served in the U.S. Navy. If that doesn't make someone an American, nothing will.
-- Arthur in Barstow, Calif.
Readers: Stay tuned. I'll print more of your submissions tomorrow.