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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
For President Kennedy, history was not a dull, dry subject, but came alive in the stories of people who risked their careers to stand up for what was right for our country, even when it was not the easy thing to do. Our father often used to say, "One man can make a difference, and every man should try." Of course, this applies to each of us, including women. Many people first learn how this is true by reading this book. The leaders of the past, like Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and Edmund G. Ross, have set a shining example for Americans today to live up to.
A few years ago, our family decided that the best way to honor John F, Kennedy would be to honor people who were continuing his work, who shared his vision for our country and his commitment to giving of themselves to make it a better place to live. We created the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award to be awarded to elected officials who exemplify the kind of courage he wrote about.
At that time, some people said, "There are no courageous politicians today. You will never find anyone to receive the award." But they were wrong. We have learned that at all levels of government, in all parts of our country, across the political spectrum, they are there. As a society, we need to encourage people to choose public service as a career, and we need to celebrate them for standing on principle.
Interestingly, many of the stories in this book tell of courage in standing up against slavery around the time of the Civil War. More than one hundred years later, the struggle for civil rights goes on. The first two Profiles in Courage Award winners, and many other courageous Americans, prove that we must never stop fighting for what we believe is right. Our first recipient, Alabama Congressman Carl Elliott, fought for equal opportunity in education and was redistricted of his congressional seat in retaliation for his courageous and principled stand. Our second winner, Georgia Democratic Congressman Charles Weltner, took an oath to support his party's ticket in the upcoming fall election. When segregationist Lester Maddox won the preliminary and became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, Weltner followed his conscious and resigned from politics, rather than violate his oath, or belief that segregation was wrong.
Other winners include Congressman Mike Synar and Henry Gonzalez. They battled powerful special interest groups like the gun lobby, the tobacco lobby, and the banking industry, fighting instead for the individual citizens who sent them to Washington. Governor Jim Florio lost his re-election campaign after he passed the nation's toughest gun control law in New Jersey. Governor Lowell Weicker introduced Connecticut's first state income tax in spite of its unpopularity. Long-time teacher and school superintendent Corkin Cherubini won the Profile in Courage Award for fighting against a system which separated children on the basis of race rather than ability, in spite of the fact that his life was threatened by members of his community. Alabama Judge Charles Price was honored for upholding the separation of church and state by ruling that another judge's courtroom display of the ten commandments violated the First Amendment. And, when the armed and dangerous Freemen tried to take over a small Montana community, 1998 Profile in Courage Winner County Attorney Nickolas Murnion stood alone against them, upholding democracy and the rule of law.
Each of these men risked their careers to do what they believed was right, and often they risked their lives. We hope that each person who reads this book and learns about courageous people in public life will realize that when we face a difficult decision which is bound to be unpopular, we are not alone. Each of us must stand up for what we believe in and be willing to take the consequences, if we want to make our country a better place to live.
Excerpted from Profiles In Courage. Reprinted with permission by BD&L.
From the Back Cover
"This is a book about that most admirable of human virtues-- courage. 'Grace under pressure,' Ernest Hemingway defined it. And these are the stories of the pressures experienced by eight United States Senators and the grace with which they endured them."
-- John F. Kennedy
During 1954-1955, John F. Kennedy, then a U.S. Senator, chose eight of his historical colleagues to profile for their acts of astounding integrity in the face of overwhelming opposition. These heroes include John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Thomas Hart Benton, and Robert A. Taft.
Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1957, Profiles in Courage -- now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition, featuring a new introduction by Caroline Kennedy, as well as Robert Kennedy's foreword written for the memorial edition of the volume in 1964 -- resounds with timeless lessons on the most cherished of virtues and is a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit. It is as Robert Kennedy states in the foreword, "not just stories of the past but a hook of hope and confidence for the future. What happens to the country, to the world, depends on what we do with what others have left us."--This text refers to the audioCD edition.
- File size : 1063 KB
- Publication date : September 8, 2015
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 272 pages
- Publisher : Harper Perennial; Illustrated edition (September 8, 2015)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B00GR0CJLA
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #57,872 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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A few of these Senators have recognizable names, but most do not. They are; John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Sam Houston, John C. Calhoun, Thomas Hart Benton, Edmund Ross, Lucius Lamar, George Norris, and Robert Taft. Only the last man did Kennedy ever meet and the rest were well-researched through biographies, autobiographies, archives, and newspapers.
Kennedy chose these men (no women Senators mentioned)) because they exhibited the integrity and boldness of politicians who were not always right in judgment, but withstood tremendous pressure by their party to fall into line and also terrible abuse by their friends as well as their constituents who felt betrayed. One nearly was thrown in a river. Another nearly hanged. They almost all lost reelection and ruined their political careers because a clear conscience and their constitutional duty meant far more to them. They hoped that in time their decisions would be recognized for their wisdom.
I certainly wish we had more of these kind of Senators today! Kennedy admitted that he couldn't think of a current Senator in 1956 who he could include in his book, besides Taft who retired very soon after Kennedy became a Senator. Would he be able to today? Perhaps.
Profiles in Courage was not simply inspirational for a person interested in the great burden and risk of being a conscientious Senator, but it helped me to understand a little better how rare such a Senator has always been and that voting for them is a privilege we didn't always have as private citizens. I learned a lot about the country's history, particularly how divisive slavery was, and about these fascinating, well-spoken men.
As a Nebraskan I'm thrilled to have learned that my conservative once had a “fighting liberal” Republican Senator in George Norris. Though he wasn't a snazzy dresser or smooth talker, he's responsible for limiting the power of the Speaker of the House and so much more. Nebraskans loved his integrity if not all of his actions. I'm going to read his autobiography.
John Quincy Adams, a young Federalist Senator, really delighted me. His vote allowed President Jefferson, an enemy, to cheaply purchase the Louisiana Purchase that so expanded the United States.
I highly recommend this book to all voting Americans in the hope that more of you will take the time to become interested in our government and vote with your conscience. It's one of the most important things you can do to improve your country and life. Thanks!
I purchased both the Kindle and the audiobook. I loved both of them but for distinctly different reasons. Within the audiobook there is a forward narrated by Caroline Kennedy, the president's daughter. The rest of the narration is done by the president's son. I would not have missed this chance to listen to these narrations and was quite moved by the experience. HOWEVER the AUDIOBOOK is ABRIDGED. Perhaps I should have known that. I will assume that it was my fault that I did not. There is so much more information in the Kindle that I would not have wanted to miss out on.
As is normal for me I did parallel reading as I worked my way through this book. I was happy to discover a biography authored by a then young Theodore Roosevelt about Senator Benton. I am ambivalent about Senator Benton, but that is not the point. I learned so much background information that I felt I had conducted a virtual 100 into level course on American History. It was a completely fulfilling reading, listening, and study experience. Thank You...