The Character Building Project

Michael J. Kerrigan

Jason Day Wins the Wanamaker Trophy

Jason Day Wins the Wanamaker Trophy

Former Pro football player James Harrison has caused a ruckus on social media in the sporting world after his controversial stance on his sons’ participation trophies.

            I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best.

Such extreme egalitarianism as awarding trophies for just showing up amounts to our culture’s egalitarian distrust… Continue reading


Bobby and Khai

Bobby and Khai

When I arose yesterday just at day break and let the dog out, I was stunned to be welcomed by a much cooler feeling outside than we’ve been having lately here in the Florida Panhandle. I don’t believe we’ve had a day this cool in the past six, maybe even 8, weeks. After a quick breakfast, and cup of coffee, I headed out to hook up the boat trailer. It was then that I realized this cool day was accompanied by a very easy three mph easterly wind and almost no cloud cover. Ten minutes later I made it to the gas station at the end of the road to pick up some live shrimp. To find an empty parking lot for maneuvering the trailer was a little erie during the morning work rush. Once inside I requested a few dozen shrimp and when the clerk… Continue reading


This week I watched an old movie based on William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. I had not thought about the subject since reading the book in high school. As the young survivors on the remote island in the Pacific turn from being virtuous British school boys to young barbarians acting like violent savages, I thought that –like the young barbarians following their malevolent leader Jack–given unpredictable challenging situations, most will succumb to bad leadership and behavior.


As Golding portrayed in his story, there always are some heroes who won’t follow the crowd and are able to rise above difficult situations. Whether the division is between tribes of boys on a deserted island, or gang members in Los Angeles or Chicago, what enables a few young adults to acquire ethical courage and transcend their fears and temptations to do evil when as they struggle to survive? From their perspective,… Continue reading


In our study of American Heroes, the moral interest of their stories must be centered in the character of the deed involved. Heroes’ deeds proceed from choice rather than obligation. The spirit of virtue hovers over their deeds and motives.

Their accomplishments must be worthy of our admiration while their heroism comes from both the magnitude of the achievement and from their humility. There is no conflict between the Christian values of humility and heroism because heroes do not seek acclaim.

The qualities, which, in my view, may be seen as heroic, are: grit, wisdom, selflessness, commitment, willingness to take on a monumental task, purity of intention and singleness of purpose.

We are seeking to identify Americans who have lived out their convictions. Some may have done so in the public eye because of the visibility afforded them by their careers. Others may simply have lived lives of quiet heroism.… Continue reading


I have learned it may be a bit premature for me to ask readers, what Americans do they find inspiring and why? Initial responses in answering this question from our readers have pointed to a slippery slope.

First there is the confusion of the “hero-as-celebrity.” Responses to my recent post… Donald Trump: Celebrity Not An American Hero were mixed. Although Trump is a successful businessman and not without supporters, many believe the substance of heroism is missing behind his media driven reputation. Less charitable readers have called Mr. Trump a Junk Food Hero… “tempting on the outside, empty within.” To give Trump the benefit of the doubt, his criteria for heroism did not include survival from captivity as a heroic act.

Next readers queried whether acts of physical bravery that was a one time-occurrence, an impulsive reaction to the unexpected and un-chosen can be heroic? If one agrees with these… Continue reading

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Mottoes & Quotes

Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right thing.

— Peter Drucker

For the Visually Impaired

Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.