On Thursday, I went to hear a speech from one of my favorite authors, David McCullough. He is the author of 1776, John Adams, Truman, and many other historical books. He has an amazingly vibrant writing style and is able to make long-dead historical figures come alive. I'd recommend all his books to anyone who enjoys history. Actually, I'd recommend his books to anyone. If you don't like history, he'll make you like it!
One thing that struck me about his speech, which was about the presidency, was his emphasis on fortitude. He noted that the dictionary says fortitude is "strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage." Through his books, it is clear that many of the Revolutionary-era people possessed fortitude. George Washington survived a time after the battle at Brooklyn where even his closest friends doubted his ability to make decisions, let alone lead the entire continental army. Yet, he had the courage to persevere and not quit. If he had quit, there might have been a very different outcome.
Mr. McCullough's concern was that very few people demonstrate fortitude anymore. We are spoiled wimps (my words, not his!). He emphasized being people of character on whom others can rely and trust. He noted that many children aren't taught character at all. He also encouraged teachers and challenged them to make history come alive for their students. He is frustrated by the lack of history education in our country.
He quoted the former Librarian of Congress, Daniel Boorstin,who said, "Trying to plan for the future without a sense of the past is like trying to plant cut flowers." It was a poignant, funny, moving, thought-provoking speech. As a teacher, I see the lack of character in many students and it saddens me as well. Please parents, character education is the most important of all!
Edited to add: You tube has similar speeches of his if you type in his name!