What a year it’s been! As a society this year we’ve experienced numerous celebrity deaths, a bitter and divisive election and a Cubs World Series win. We’ve seen a record high stock market, record low unemployment and yet another Star Wars movie. All of this is on top of personal triumphs and tragedies, wins and losses and ups and downs that have either made for a great year or one you’d rather forget. Either way, if you’re the same person today that you were when this year began, you’ve failed as a human being. I don’t write a lot about the subject of motivation. I avoid the subject because I think there’s enough traffic in that space as it is and I’m not sure I’m qualified to motivate anyone as it’s enough of a job to motivate myself, but for just a moment, think about 2016. Was it the year you wanted? If the answer is yes, congratulations! You’ve built the confidence necessary to make 2017 even better. If your answer was no, Congratulations! You’ve learned the lessons necessary to make 2017 your year. You see, the only way you failed is if you didn’t try. This year has been a mixed bag of emotions for me. I wrote on my birthday of the strange place I was finding myself, but I’ve also persisted forward to achieve new goals as I’ve left my others behind. It’s been a time of self-doubt but also self-discovery and I’ve never felt more excited about my future than I do right now. As I write my last post of the year, it’s my sincere hope that you feel the same way. What a year it’s been indeed! Remember this moment because when you look back next year at this time the person you are today will be a shadow of the person you will have become. Don’t let up now, you’ve only 365 days to get there. ]]>
Robert Kennedy is sometimes called the forgotten Kennedy. Forty-eight years after his death, we sometimes forget the impact his life had on our country. However, any series on great men and persistence would be incomplete without him. Like is brother, President John F. Kennedy, Robert Frances Kennedy was born into a wealthy and powerful family. Harvard educated, politically connected Bobby was off to a great start but was never taken seriously by the rest of his family. That was until Jack’s 1952 Senate Campaign was in shambles and Bobby stepped in. At the age of 27, he was running one of the most pivotal senate races of the 20th century and he did so with ruthless efficiency. His brilliance at organizing the campaign won his brother a senate seat, but more importantly to him, he won his father’s respect. His father used his connections to get him the job as assistant counsel on Senator Joseph McCarthy’s staff. He stayed until 1956 and was counted on as one of McCarthy’s most trusted advisors. At the 1956 Democratic National Convention, it was Bobby, against his father’s wishes, that ran his brother’s bid for the Vice Presidential Nomination. Although he lost the nomination fight, the lessons he learned would come in extremely useful four years later. When the convention closed, Kennedy went on the road with the Stevenson campaign. He took extensive notes about the campaign and again, developed an understanding of what it took to win a Presidential Campaign. After documenting all of Stevenson’s failures, Bobby returned to Boston and voted for Eisenhower. When the 1957 Senate Session opened, Robert Kennedy was the chief counsel on the Senate Labor Racketeering Committee. As chief counsel, Bobby went toe to toe with Jimmy Hoffa and distinguished himself as a serious player in Washington. He was 32 years old. In 1960, when Jack announced his candidacy for President, it was Bobby that was named Campaign Manager. Taking all of the lessons he learned in 1956, he flawlessly orchestrated a strategy that carried his brother to the White House. In the Kennedy White House, Robert was officially named Attorney General of the United States, but in reality, he was much closer to his Brother’s Chief of Staff. Every major decision made in the Kennedy Administration was made with Robert Kennedy in the room. When Nikita Khrushchev pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war, Bobby was a valued member of Ex-Com, the committee that the President counted on to determine strategy. When President Kennedy mobilized the Alabama National Guard to integrate the University of Alabama, it was Bobby who made the call. No one other than the President carried more influence in Washington than Robert Kennedy and hadn’t reached his 40th birthday. And then he fell. Robert Kennedy was holding a meeting by the pool at his Virginia home on November 22, 1963, when he got the call that his brother had been killed in Dallas Texas. His world collapsed. One of the greatest blood feuds of American Politics was the hatred between Robert Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Kennedy stayed on in the Johnson Administration until the end of 1963, but his heart wasn’t in it. He became incredibly distant. He smoked his brother’s cigars, wore his brother’s flight jacket, read the book his brother loved and went for long walks alone on the beach. It seemed as if he might never recover. But he started his way back. Speaking at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Robert honored his brother and became, for the first time in life, a star in his own right. Winning a Senate seat from the New York in 1964, he became a champion of oppressed and downtrodden people everywhere. He traveled the world giving hope to the hopeless and inspiration to those who truly needed it. Working in the senate, he persisted in giving a voice to those who had none. In 1968, out of opposition to what seemed like an endless war, and a government mistrusted by its people, Robert Kennedy announced his candidacy for President of the United States. He was on his way to winning the Democratic Nomination when an assassin’s bullet cut him down. Robert Kennedy experienced tremendous success early in his life. He brilliantly used his family connections, his intelligence, and ambition to climb quickly. When it seemed as if the sky were his limit, he fell as quickly as he rose. But through sheer persistence to see that his brother’s legacy fulfilled, he climbed back to stand taller than before his fall. Robert F. Kennedy was a true Profile In Persistence. ]]>
When I think about success and motivation, one of the first names to come to mind is Tony Robbins. Success guru to Presidents, athletes, and Oprah, he has in a career that’s spanned over 30 years, accumulated wealth, fame and influence. He’s also a perfect subject for a Profile in Persistence. Born on leap day in 1960, Tony Robbins did everything early. He was reading at 3, had a huge vocabulary and carried full conversations very young. When he discovered that baseball wouldn’t be his career, he dove head first into sports journalism. At the age of 14, he interviewed sports broadcasting giant, Howard Cosell. When he was 15, he was offered a job as a television reporter and was on the air until his mother thought the exposure wasn’t good for him and pulled the plug. At the urging of his high school guidance counselor, he left school and worked as a janitor until he got a job working as a salesman. He was a natural and his career really took off. When his employer took him to see a Jim Rohn seminar, he was transfixed and soon went to work for Rohn selling seminars. He was 17 years old and earning $3,000 a month. Incredible money for someone raised in poverty. With the sky as the limit, he opened his own office when he was 19 years old and worked like a mad man to make it a success. It paid off as before long he was earning $10,000 a month. All of his life he had dreamt of making it big and it seemed as if he had. Until he fell. Burned out and depressed, he was discouraged to find that the money didn’t make him happy. He began to sabotage himself by missing key meetings. He ate his feelings and gained a massive amount of weight. He went from having it all to moving into a one bedroom apartment where he spent most of his time watching Luke and Laura on General Hospital. The bottom was hard and he was only 21 years old. As quickly as he fell, however, his turnaround was just as swift. He woke up one morning and forced himself to go for a run. There on the beach, he deiced to turn his life around. What followed was truly stunning. He discovered that by taking control of his mind, his emotions, and taking massive action he could turn his life around. When he discovered this, he found a way to teach it. Using the newly discovered Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) he began helping others turn their lives around they way that he had. When he added fire walks to his program, he began to draw crowds. Constantly working to improve himself, his seminars grew and grew. Attracting at first hundred and then thousands of people. Taking every free media opportunity he could get to showcase his skill and showmanship, he built himself an empire. Late night infomercials in the late 1980’s sold his books, seminars and audio programs all around the world. It’s been said that at any hour of any given day, a Tony Robbins infomercial is playing somewhere in the world, making him the longest running TV act in history. Tony Robbins is a uniquely American success story that may from the outside, appear to simply be rags to riches story. To say that,however, would be a disservice. To quote his mentor Jim Rohn, “things don’t just happen, things happen just.” If he hadn’t fallen, he wouldn’t have discovered his ability to transform his and other lives. His perseverance to overcome his challenge is an inspiration to all of us making him a true Profile in Persistence. ]]>
Few men in American life have garnered more attention, more respect or simply more mixed feelings than Douglass MacArthur. Throughout a career that spanned nearly six decades, Mac rose and fell so many times that it was hard to catch him when he wasn’t at the top or on the bottom. There was no in between. All of this aside, however, he remains our greatest war hero. His effort to rise after each fall make him a profile in persistence. Born into a military family, it was always assumed that Douglas would spend a life in service to his country. His father, an American General, had received The Medal of Honor and raised his son to follow in his footsteps. Follow he did. Graduating first in his class from West Point, MacArthur was only 24 when he was first nominated for his own Medal of Honor for his role conducting a reconnaissance mission during the 1914 United States occupation of Veracruz. With the outbreak of World War I, he was promoted from Major to Colonel to lead the “Rainbow” Division of the first Americans to fight in the bloody conflict. At a young age, he showed a flair for charismatic leadership and inspired his men by taking missions deemed too dangerous by others. His bravery earned him a total of two Distinguished Service Cross medals and seven Silver Stars along with the rank of Brigadier General. His future was incredibly bright when he suffered his first setback. Following the Armistice in 1919, He was assigned to serve as the Superintended of West Point. While he loved his Alma Mater, he earned for action that he wasn’t getting. His attempts at reform were met with contempt from his critics and he was genuinely unhappy. And then he rose again. In 1925 he was assigned the Philippines, where his father has shown so brightly and became the youngest Major General in the history of the US Army at 35. His distinction led him to chair the US Olympic Committee in 1928 and In 1930, he became Chief of Staff of the United States Army. He was 40 years old and serving in the position that his father had always coveted. He had the ear of President Hoover and was chiefly responsible for turning back the Bonus March in 1932 when WWI vets marched on Washington D.C. to claim their war bonuses due to them in 1945. His actions of burning the protester’s cardboard village were unpopular with the American public but made cemented his reputation within right-wing circles. He had power and influence and was young. And then he fell. With the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, he saw the reach of influence start to slip. It was the beginning of a difficult relationship that would last the rest of FDR’s life. When his recommendations weren’t followed, MacArthur took it personally. While he was credited with modernizing the American Army he was frustrated by the New Dealer’s lack of concern for foreign threats and in 1937, after nearly 4o years in uniform, he resigned from the Army. Out of the Army for the firs time in his life, MacArthur took a job as Military Advisor to the government of the Philippines and the rank of Field Marshal or the Pilipino Army. Douglas MacArthur served in that capacity until he was forced from the Island with the Japanese invasion in 1941. It was then, with the world at war, he was once again called back into service. With a title of Commander of United States Army Forces in the Far East, MacArthur went to work but met failure after failure. His air force was destroyed, he was forced to retreat from Bataan to Corregidor and then, but PT boat across uneven seas to Australia. It was there that he once again showed the charismatic leadership that inspired his men in Europe thirty years before. Displaying a confidence, great ability and a lot of persistence, Douglas MacArthur overcame his initial setbacks to be named Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area. His leadership and daredevil tactics worked as he began to pile up victories in battles all over Southwest Asia and on August 30, 1945, Douglas MacArthur landed in Japan to formally accept the surrender of the Japanese empire. For all of his heroics, he was awarded the Medal of Honor making he and his father the only father/son duo in American History to hold such distinction. After all of his many falls and many rises, Douglas MacArthur became an unlikely hero to the Japanese people. Initiating Habeas Corpus, giving women the right to vote and allowed freedom of speech that had for generations been gone. General Douglas MacArthur rose higher than before because of the many falls that he took and it made him an even greater leader of the people of Japan. He would go on to lead our war efforts in Korea before falling again and being removed by President Harry Truman. While he would spend the rest of his life out of the service, he provided us with one of our greatest pieces of rhetorical excellence when, standing in House Chamber giving his retiring address, he closed with the words:
Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.Throughout his life, MacArthur displayed a kind of perseverance and persistence that makes him an example to follow. Though he fell many times, no fall ever kept him down and that is why he is a true profile in persistence. ]]>
A disclaimer to begin: Writing about Hillary’s Husband is not an endorsement, it’s just another installment of the Profiles in Persistence Series. With all of the nicknames that President Bill Clinton acquired, I’m genuinely surprised that he was never compared to a cat because he has as close to nine lives as any American Politician. The life of our 42nd President proves that the only limit on second chances in American life is how many you’re willing to take. Similar to Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton was hailed as a wonder boy of politics. Before he could vote, he drove candidates, volunteered in political campaigns, and was listened to by experienced politicians. One of the most iconic pictures of the 1992 Presidential Campaign was the photograph of Bill Clinton as a member of Arkansas’ Boys Nation delegation shaking hands with President Kennedy. He was a bright shining star as a young man. In college, he worked for Senator J. William Fullbright and went on to be a Rhodes Scholar. All the while, his plan was always to return to Arkansas and run for office. After Yale Law School he got his chance and waged an aggressive campaign for Congress in 1974 again the popular John Paul Hammerschmidt. President Nixon’s resignation killed his campaign and he lost but learned how to run a successful campaign. In 1976, Bill Clinton was elected Attorney General of the State of Arkansas by a landslide vote. He was considered to be one of the Democratic Party’s rising stars and wasn’t even 30 yet. It was almost a given that Clinton would run for Governor in 1978. His campaign was a youth revolution and he was once again elected by a landslide when he was 30 years old, making him the youngest Governor in the nation. And then he fell. Clinton was elected on a campaign to improve education and infrastructure in a state who’s unofficial motto was “Thank God for Mississippi” because if it weren’t for Mississippi, Arkansas would be last in the nation in education and infrastructure. In order to fulfill his campaign promises, he raised the fee for license plates to pay for his initiatives. It’s become a fable in Arkansas politics that ever month, 1/12 of the population went to renew their plates and every month 1/12 of the population decided against voting for Bill Clinton. In 1980, Republican businessman Bill White ran a brilliant campaign that captured anger over the license plate fee increase and the Reagan Revolution sweeping the rest of the nation. For the first time in his life, Bill Clinton was turned out of office and unpopular. At the age of 32, Bill Clinton found himself the youngest ex-governor in America’s History. In true Bill Clinton style, he spent the following day campaigning for 1982. He went to work in a law firm, took every speaking engagement offered to him and worked his way back. His extreme hard work, diligence and yes, persistence, paid off as he was returned the Governor’s Mansion in 1982 a changed man. He was more capable of compromise and more eager to prove himself. He fell hard but began a quicker rise. It was rumored that he would run for President in 1988 but decided to sit it out and wait for either 1992 or 1996. When the nominee, Michael Dukakis, asked his fellow governor to give his nominating speech at the Democratic National Convention, it seemed as if his career would once again be over as he spoke for 33 minutes and received his biggest applause line on the phrase “In conclusion”. Once again however he proved his critics wrong when an appearance on the Johnny Carson Show the following week once again out him on the map. On November 3, 1992, Bill Clinton was elected President. After rising quickly and falling hard, he had risen to the highest office in the land. Throughout his Presidency, he was pronounced politically dead over and over again. 1998, he became the second President in US History to be impeached. Even that couldn’t kill the cat of politics. Every time he has fallen, he has clawed his way and has shown over and over again that he is a true profile in persistence. ]]>
In thinking about this week’s Profile in Persistence, I was considering several great men and then cleveland.com released a really entertaining article listing the most famous person from each of Ohio’s 88 Counties and knowing it wasn’t even a contest for my home county, it seemed like fate that this week’s feature be Neil Armstrong.
When we talk about great men that started young, it doesn’t start much younger than Neil Armstrong who was flying airplanes before he could drive a car. Growing up in Mr. Armstrong’s hometown, it has become local lore of a boy on his bicycles riding to our local airstrip to learn to fly.
In 1947, Armstrong began his studies at Perdue University on a Navy scholarship. He was called into duty in 1949 and quickly distinguished himself. By 1950, he qualified as a Naval Aviator, making him, at 20, one of the youngest in the Navy.
He flew 70 missions in Korea, earning The Air Medal, a Gold Star, and Engagement Star. His success as a fighter pilot allowed him to retire from the navy at the age of 22. He was keeping with his trend of doing this well and doing it early.
After graduating from Perdue in 1955 with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, Neil Armstrong wanted to return to his first true love; flying. He applied to the newly formed National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the federal agency that was the precursor to NASA, and was denied. After succeeding in nearly everything he put his mind to, young Mr. Armstrong, for the first time experienced failure. It seemed as if his dream of exploring space had been dashed.
It’s tempting to look at a man that literally rose higher than any other and believe that he was always going to end up there, but the story of Neil Armstrong serves as an inspiration to all of us from his hometown because the obstacles he faced to achieve his dreams.
When he was denied an opportunity with National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, Armstrong undertook a career as a test pilot with Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a dangerous career but it allowed Armstrong to show the kind of calm in the face of chaos that made him such a great astronaut, flying his aircraft to the brink on several occasions totally more than 900 flights in experimental aircraft and more than one that almost killed him.
Persistently following his goal of becoming an astronaut, Armstrong applied for and was accepted to be one of the few civilians in the Air Force’s Man In Space Soonest program in 1958. After a short time there, in 1962, Neil Armstrong was selected to be a NASA Astronaut.
It almost didn’t happen as his application arrived a week late, but after clawing his way back from near obscurity, he found himself a part of NASA’s “New Nine”, or the second group of astronauts selected for space exploration.
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, son of Wapakoneta Ohio, war hero, test pilot, and now astronaut, stepped upon the moon’s surface and said one history’s most famous quotes:
That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.
Getting to this point took extraordinary courage, but it was courage Neil Armstrong had displayed his entire life. It took extraordinary hard work, but Neil Armstrong was no stranger to hard work. Most importantly, it took extraordinary persistence. Lesser men would have given up when they were rejected from service. Lesser men would have quit during the incredibly rigorous testing. Lesser men would have quit after watching their fellow astronauts die in crash after crash. Neil Armstrong, though, wasn’t lesser men. His courage, his hard work and yes, his persistence forged his legacy for all of time. He is a true profile in persistence.]]>
In writing this series of extraordinary men that experienced early success in life, suffered great falls only to rise again to stand taller than before, it’s been tempting to focus solely on politicians and Presidents. So much has been written about all of them and the details of their rise, fall, and rise again are easily catalogued. As tempting as it, however, it would be a disservice to so many great men and women that have proven F. Scott Fitzgerald wrong to find their second and sometimes third acts in American Life.
With that said, the first nonpolitician to be featured is definitely worthy. Francis Albert Sinatra has been hailed as the greatest pop singer of the 20th Century. He’s the winner of 13 Grammys and an Academy Award. The founder of the Rat Pack is also considered to be one of the coolest men to ever live and has been an American standard for masculinity for generations. But even he suffered a fall.
Born in Hoboken New Jersey in 1915, Frank Sinatra was inspired early in life to peruse a career in music after hearing a Bing Crosby recording. He won his first contest when he was 19 and by the time he was 20 he was making a living singing with dance bands and making remote radio appearances.
His career really took off in 1939 when we landed the job of band singer with the James Band. He was 24 years old and in a 6 month period released 10 commercial recordings.
In 1942 he struck out on his own and in 1943 signed a contract with Columbia Records. It was a partnership that put him on the map. Between 1943 and 1945 he recorded 83 hit songs and was a constant presence on radio stations around the country.
He had acquired fame and fortune and his future opportunities seemed endless until it all dried up.
As newspaper articles began to appear in 1948 showing apparent connections to organized crime, a change in American musical tastes and a messy lawsuit with a tabloid reporter, Frank Sinatra had gone from sitting on top of the world to being nobody. He was 32 years old.
To add injury to insult, he lost his voice completely for several months in 1950 due to a vocal cord hemorrhage. In 1952, His contract with Columbia was not renewed, his talent agency dumped him and his television show was canceled. Everything he had worked for seemed to be disappearing which only caused him to slip into a deep depression.
Throughout this difficult period, however, Sinatra continued to scrap and fight for attention. He sang on every show that would have him and continued to record songs. He worked tirelessly to put himself in the right place at the right time and it paid off.
1952 he signed a contract to play a soldier in a war movie. He was to play the good timing friend, a role he was extremely comfortable with, alongside the rising star Burt Lancaster in the movie From Here To Eternity.
He stole the show.
Handsome and playful, his portrayal of Angelo Maggio won him the Academy Award for best supporting Actor. In a moment of overnight success, he was back.
Following the success of From Here To Eternity, Sinatra was once again an in-demand sensation. He was a sought-after screen actor and was offered a contract with Capitol records to sing again.
Throughout the rest of the 1950’s and 60’s, Frank Sinatra was America’s favorite singer, actor, and celebrity. His endorsement of John F. Kennedy for President carried with it so much weight that the candidate had him remake his hit song High Hopes as a campaign anthem.
When one looks at the kind of comeback that Frank Sinatra had in the early 1950’s it’s tempting to pin it all on his Oscar. But it was his constant grinding and hustling when no one was watching that put him in that position.
Throughout his life, he acquired the kind of power and influence that most musicians only dream of. By being a captain of his industry, he earned his title Chairman of the Board. All of it happened because of his relentlessly and with great persistence pursuing his goal. He might not have ever won an election, but Frank Sinatra is a true Profile in Persistence.]]>
In writing this blog, I realize that my grandfather is now spinning in his grave. His always said that he wanted the words NEVER VOTED FOR NIXON inscribed on his tombstone.
Despite what would be my grandfather’s objections, Richard Millhouse Nixon is absolutely worthy of mention in a series on persistence.
Born to a poor Quaker family in California Richard Nixon rose quickly, fell dramatically, rose again only to fall further.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that there are no second acts in American Life. I doubt Richard Nixon ever read that. After graduating from Wittier College, serving heroically in the Navy and obtaining a law degree from Duke Law School, Nixon was first elected to congress when he was 33. Ironically, it was the same year as his future nemesis, John F. Kennedy.
While in the House of Representatives, Nixon’s rise was sharp due to his service on the House Un-American Activities Committee and the outing of Alger Hiss as a communist.
Using his newfound fame as a springboard, Nixon ran for the Senate in 1948 at the age of 35. He ran a great campaign labeling Helen Gahagan Douglas (a former mistress of LBJ) as pink right down to her underwear. One need not agree with his tactics to see the brilliance of shifting attention away from his lack of a record and onto his opponent’s weaknesses. This shift helped him win the 1948 election and beat his then friend, JFK to the Senate.
Young, charismatic and with a reputation as a street fighter for conservative issues, Nixon was a logical choice in 1952 to help balance the Republican Party’s Presidential ticket with the older, moderate Dwight D. Eisenhower at the top.
From the beginning, his rough personality ruffled feathers and he almost suffered his first big fall when he was accused of taking kickbacks and establishing a slush fund. It was only a televised speech when he once again shifted attention away from himself and on to his family pet, their dog named Checkers, that saved him from being dropped from the ticket.
At the age of 38, Richard Nixon became our second youngest Vice President in our nation’s history.
It was quite a remarkable rise for a man with such humble beginnings. In the ten years between 1942, when Nixon first came to Washington DC to work for the Navy Department and 1952, he was elected to the House of Representatives at when he was 33, Senator when he was 35, and Vice President when he was 38.
And Then he lost.
The election of 1960 should have been the crowning of Richard Nixon’s career. The popular Vice President of a popular President should have easily beaten the catholic Senator of Massachusetts. But John F. Kennedy was no ordinary candidate and edged Mr. Nixon in a very close election.
In 1962, defeated, Nixon ran unsuccessfully ran for Governor in his home state of California. He lost again and this time added insult to injury by holding a disastrous press conference when he announced that the press “wouldn’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.” Before he was 50 it seemed that his star had burned too brightly as the media once again wrote his premature obituary.
Then, in 1968, using a strategy that had become a hallmark of Nixon campaigns, he was able to find the right issue to distract, divide and discourage enough voters to make himself a viable candidate for President: Race.
As American cities burned over civil rights, Richard Nixon proclaimed himself to be Law and Order Candidate of America’s Silent Majority and with Hubert Humphrey refusing to distance himself from an unpopular President and an unpopular war, and George Wallace taking enough white working class Democrats away, it was a message that resonated. He carried states that hadn’t gone Republican since Reconstruction and was elected President.
One might pick up on my cynicism in writing of Nixon’s victory. I do little to hide it. I believe he as able to exploit some our worst fears by appealing not the better angels of our nature but to something darker to win election to the Highest Office in the Land. I have very little respect for the tactics he used to get there and those are reasons why my Grandfather despised the man so much. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a tremendous amount of respect for the perseverance and yes, persistence that he showed in overcoming one of the biggest falls in American Political History.
Once President, his crowning achievement came in 1972 when he was reelected in a landslide. He was for a time, validated. That was until the Watergate Scandal forced him to resign in disgrace. This was a fall to big that no amount of persistence could save him from.
His methods notwithstanding, the resourcefulness and hard work that Nixon showed between 1962 and 1968 is impressive and makes him a true Profile in Persistence.]]>
It will come as no secret after naming this series in homage to John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage that I have a great deal of admiration for our 35th President.
We have had few Presidents as debonair, charismatic or eloquent and for all of these qualities I look up to President Kennedy but his courage and persistence are characteristics that worthy of discussion as well.
It’s tempting to see a rich, handsome, and articulate politician and assume that his meteoric rise was a given, but that’s not the case with President Kennedy.
Popular lore is that Kennedy went into politics to please his father after his brother’s death and in certain respects, that’s been proven to be true, but it’s just as likely that if Joe Jr. had lived, John Kennedy would have sought some avenue of public service.
After returning from the Pacific a war hero, and following his brother’s death, John F. Kennedy was able to use his father’s money and connections as well as his own ambition to win election to The US House of Representatives at the age of 26.
When he was 35 he beat a powerful incumbent Senator with a name legendary in Massachusetts, Henry Cabot Lodge, and became one of the youngest men in the Senate.
It was a fast start that was capped off in 1956 when his name was placed in nomination for the Vice Presidency Of The United States and while he did not win the nomination, he did become the freshest face in Democratic politics.
And then he fell.
Unlike his hero Winston Churchill’s fall which was mostly self-inflicted and political, JFK suffered a fall much closer to the one suffered by his father’s nemesis, Franklin Roosevelt.
Despite going out of his way to display health and vigor, John F. Kennedy had never been a healthy man. Suffering from the autoimmune disease Addison’s Disease and a bad back that was mostly the result of a war injury, it was his health that almost knocked him out of politics in 1957.
Kennedy was warned of the risks that someone in his condition was facing having surgery when he opted for back surgery in 1957. It would be nearly impossible to control infection due to his other ailments but he decided to risk it anyway.
his father tried to talk him out of the procedure, but Kennedy was determined to have the operation saying he’d rather die than spend the rest of his life on crutches.
At first, the operation looked like a success but then infection set in and more than once before he recovered, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was administered last rights.
It was unknown for weeks if he would live. It took longer still to know whether or not he would walk again. He contemplated retiring from politics because he saw not future for his ambitions.
It was during this dark period in his life when his wife suggested he write and while a way from the Senate he ad Theodore Sorenson wrote what would become the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles In Courage.
Buoyed by its success, little by little JFK got stronger and in 1958, was reelected to the Senate in a landside.
During the 1960 Presidential Primaries, he fought back discrimination over his Catholic faith and won his parties nomination for President. Then defeated Vice President Richard Nixon to win the White House.
On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as President Of The United States. He was the first and remains the only Catholic to ever do so.
Yes, President Kennedy was given an advantage that helped him to succeed early in life, but nothing could insulate him from the problems his health caused. It was by sheer determination, hard work, and persistence that he was able to overcome the impossible odds to hold our nation’s highest office and it’s this climb back from the brink that makes him a true Profile In Persistence.]]>