On Friday night, a military-chartered plane that took off from Guantanamo Bay and was scheduled to land at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida slid off of the runway, due to the thunderstorms in the area, and landed in a shallow part of the St. Johns River.
All 136 passengers and 7 crew members survived the incident, though 21 people were taken to hospitals just to be safe. It could’ve been worse. Thankfully, it wasn’t.
You know what the expected reaction is in moments like this:
The safe landing was a miracle, said Capt. Michael Connor, a commanding officer at the Jacksonville station.
“We could be talking about a different story this evening. So, there’s a lot to say about the professionalism of the folks that helped the passengers off the airplane,” he said early Saturday at a news conference.
Those two statements contradict each other, of course. The helpers and firefighters deserve plenty of credit for helping everyone. There’s nothing miraculous about that.
Which is why you have to tip your hat to Tom Francis, a spokesman working for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, who admitted exactly that in tongue-in-cheek remarks to the press.
Francis would not characterize the lack of fatalities as a miracle, however.
“Oh, I don’t take that kind of approach to anything, I’m more of a secular kind of guy,” he told reporters.
Someone with a sense of humor and a sensible mind. Well done. It’s not dismissive of anyone on board who may have prayed as the plane slid. Francis is just saying he gives credit where it’s actually due.
Reporters ought to stop asking leading questions about miracles, anyway. There’s nothing miraculous about a situation like this, even when everyone survives. (That’s undoubtedly true when there’s a fatality.) Plus, anyone who wants to give credit to God must also believe God did nothing to stop the plane from landing the way it did. No one deserves credit for doing something awful but not making matters worse.