The Character Building Project

Michael J. Kerrigan


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

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

The growing lack of character in our culture is, in my opinion, the crisis of our age. Today our culture would rather be titillated than inspired, preferring gossip to gospel. We are in the heyday of the impostor when celebrities like Donald Trump are being promoted as heroes. It is my belief such false celebrity worship can be mitigated by studying the moral deeds of true heroes. Not just the heroes of antiquity but ordinary Americans distinguished by achievement not by fame, wealth and image.

Daniel Boorstin wrote in his essay, “From Hero to Celebrity”

            Celebrity-worship and hero-worship should not be confused. Yet we confuse them every day, and by doing so we come dangerously close to depriving ourselves of all real models. We lose sight of the men and women who do not simply seem great… Continue reading

The following thought piece is a guest article by Michael G. Sabbeth, attorney, author, educator, lecturer and friend.

kidsethicsbooksidebar2 The Drunk Friend

The challenge is as great or greater today than when faced by the cavemen: how do we raise children to do ‘good’ and instill values that will inspire them to be good their entire lives? Here’s how thoughtful adults can affirmatively influence the moral development, strength and behavior of children.

Several years ago I spoke to a men’s club at a local temple about how to cultivate  culture of conversation with children. Children want to talk with their parents, I emphasized. They look to parents for guidance, for learning values, hopefully good values, and for affirmation about what is virtuous. Two weeks before my talk an elderly woman driving on icy Santa Fe Drive lost control and slid into the South Platte River. A few people stopped… Continue reading


Before asking readers to identify Unsung Heroes for The Character Building Project, it occurred to me to first share several perspectives on Heroes and Heroines. In my opinion, there are many types of heroes and heroines as well as kinds of heroism: military heroes, humanitarian heroes, cultural heroes, business heroes, biblical heroes, literary heroes, political heroes and unsung heroes of all kinds. I trust the following perspectives on Heroes will enrich your understanding, motivate you to share your views on heroism and perhaps identify who your heroes and heroines are.


Heroes overcome adversity in order to do the right thing for the good of humanity.

Heroes live by the golden rule and do the right thing for the right reasons.

Heroes at an instant in time have confronted difficulty, even death defying issues and either succeed or not but risk their lives to do it.

Heroes spend a lifetime… 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.