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On Character, Part 2

A few days ago, I shared a few sentences from the West Point Cadet Prayer that have helped me through my own trials and tribulations. I have continued to reflect on this prayer as well as the challenging times we all face these days. I wanted to share another sentence of the prayer that further illuminates the key elements of this indomitable quality, ‘character’, that I believe is the bedrock of great leadership.

“Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.”

As I listened to so many dignitaries speak at John Lewis’s funeral a few days ago, it was this specific line that immediate came to mind. For me, John Lewis embodies these words. Throughout his life, he courageously stood up to injustice and advocated for good trouble when truth and right were in jeopardy. I believe he will continue to do so through his words and the legacy he has left behind.

I am inspired by John’s life and how he humbly embraced the quality of ‘character’. That same day, I decided to vote in our local primary runoff election. To be honest, I have never done that in my life. I can’t say that I am proud to admit that, as I know the importance of local elections. However, as I listened to John’s funeral, I realized that there is absolutely no ambiguity regarding how John felt about the right and privilege to vote. And so, I did something small that I felt would honor John’s life and all the sacrifices he made and the suffering he endured so that all Americans could exercise their right to vote.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in the coming November election, Americans voted with the greatest participation rates ever recorded in any American presidential election? I don’t know about you, but I am tired of reading far too many negative news stories. Can you see the newspapers’ front page with big, bold letters, “Democracy in Action as Largest Voter Participation in American History!” That certainly would be a great story to counter all the bad news. And it seems to me that it would be a great way for Americans to honor the great legacy of John Lewis and his deep desire for all Americans to actively participate in our Democracy by exercising our right to vote.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, look on.


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