Michael J. Kerrigan

Character Building Project

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As many of you know, I have been working on the Character Building Project for a longtime. It is a rewarding mission but now I could really use your help in getting the word out about my just published third book, Restoring Character in America (RCIA.

The book’s message is simply that sound moral and intellectual virtues lay a foundation with other good habits that lead to building good character. My call to action is to mobilize individual citizens to help restore character in America.

Several sponsors have committed to help us get the message out by distributing books for free to teachers, parents and coaches. In order to for larger numbers of books to be freely distributed, thirty more Amazon reviews must be posted this quarter. For those not familiar with the process of posting reviews on Amazon, just tell me how I might be in touch with you.… Continue reading


In the last several posts, I have assessed the progress of the Character Building Project site and shared lessons learned in publishing three books on character. In my last book, Restoring Character in America (RCIA) I gained a deeper understanding of character as a result of working with scholars, community and corporate leaders. Also I greatly benefited by exchanges about the state of character in our culture with the readers of my site and notes from my friends on Facebook.

In making this assessment, the question arises if readers appreciate the decline of character in our culture, does the site and the book serve the purpose of doing something about that decline? Most readers would agree, the essays of the four character exemplars in RCIA, clearly explain how character is being restored from an educational, military, corporate and community perspectives. In addition, information about combating the decline has been… Continue reading

Restoring Character in America was the hardest of my books to publish. The first book, Politics with Principle was written from my 30 plus years of experience as a Washington Lobbyists. The second, Courage in America was a natural outcome of gaining the trust of the wounded warriors and just guiding them on their story of successful rehabilitation.

The idea of Restoring Character in America did not come easily to me. I read endless books, articles, and visited numerous web sites on several character related topics. Initially my plan was to write a book about our law enforcement heroes. I thought this would be a logical extension of the heroic qualities of the wounded warriors I knew. I had already reported on the wounded warriors traumatic loss, their vulnerability in rehabilitation, then their comeback, the final triumph of successful rehabilitation and transition to civilian life.

In my opinion, our country… Continue reading

When I launched the Character Building Project site ten years ago, I began my research in the character genre and continue to do so, with Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book Outliers  in mind. Gladwell’s rule is that 10,000 hours is the magic number to gain expertise in a subject.

Three years later, Wheatmark, Inc. published my first book… Politics with Principle: Ten Characters with Character. Before choosing Wheatmark I had interviewed several other independent publishers as I was not seeking an advance, knew I wanted to control my own intellectual property and wanted to work with people I trusted that could guide me through the publishing process

My first step was to seek the advice of my wife (a scientific editor for the National Cancer Institute), my valued clients who I had represented for many years and the opinions of those in politics I respected. All recommended… Continue reading

Adam on the Road to Recovery

Recently, I have been absent (with leave) from posting articles on this site because my neighbors and I hosted an event to support the recovery and rehabilitation of Adam Williams’s traumatic injuries. The good news is that Adam is making a miraculous recovery and the reception raised over $30,000 to help Adam and his family defers huge medical expenses.

As many of you may know, I have been working on character building for over ten years and have just launched my third character book, Restoring Character in America (RCIA.) At this stage of the project, having dedicated 10,000 hours to studying character education, we are generating growing interest in citizen participation in character building, sold over five thousand copies of my first two published books,…  Politics with Principle: Ten Characters with Character and Courage in America, have almost 700 loyal followers who… Continue reading

Part of the mission of the Character Building Project is to mobilize “character communities of interests” by discussing, sharing and publishing books, studies and articles on character development.

David Brooks The Road to Character is one such book I wish to suggest to our readers. If you do not have time to read the entire book, the most concise excerpt I might share is what David calls his Humility Code. Here is a brief summary of the list:

A meaningful life includes the struggle to become more morally fit.

We need to recognize that it is human nature to be flawed.

An essential part of becoming more moral is engaging in the struggle of our strengths triumphing over our weaknesses.

Humility is our greatest strength

Our most central vice is our pride.

Once the basic needs for living are met, the most important part of life is the struggle of… Continue reading

The purpose of this post is to synthesize the key points presented at the character summit meeting of the Union League of Philadelphia. The Union League, a patriotic society founded in 1862 to support the president, is comprised of leaders from a range of disciplines. The Union League actively engages in civic participation and philanthropic outreach to promote character-driven leadership.

The Union League member RADM Tom Lynch and Michael Kerrigan, owner of the Character Building Project, to promote discussion among key people in the field of character education organized this meeting. In the main, this meeting sought to determine the potential to launch a commercially viable product or service to promote character that reaches a wide range of untapped audiences, including individuals in the vocational trades and individuals of lower socioeconomic status.

Overall, there were two main questions that developed from this meeting. The first question asked what has previously… Continue reading

As readers of the Character Building Project might know, I am soon to publish a brief book on how character in America might be restored. Few dispute private character and civic virtue are in need of restoration but many doubt that goal is possible. This article is to share how I have gone about such a grand mission.

Several years ago I created The Character Building Project, a Web site designed to take a positive approach to building character and to identify examples of initiatives as well as civic “heroes” who are exemplifying and or uniquely promoting character development.

Since 2010 Wheatmark, Inc. published two of my books. The first Politics with Principle: Ten Characters with Character honored individual achievement in public service. The other Courage in America: Seven Warriors with Character focused on the courage and character of truly remarkable wounded warriors.  These great young Americans demonstrate the… Continue reading


After reading The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly I have been thinking whether many of the 12 technological trends that Kelly believes will shape our future, might also shape character education and character building. For example, might the character community cooperate to create a platform like the iPhone and write an encyclopedia, as is done with Wikipedia? The aim would be for the character community to engineer a system where self-directed peers take responsibility for critical processes and difficult decisions, such as sorting out priorities are decided by all participants.

The next several posts will be based on applying several of Kevin Kelly’s twelve trends to building character in America. With feedback from readers of The Character Building Project, we might very well begin to harness the sharing of the character crowd.


Readers of the Character Building Project have voted in favor of directing our research to examining character in the education field. Further suggestions were to study exemplars involved in the charter school movement where challenges to the character of charter school leaders comes from attacks of scams and scandals, skimming and trimming students, criticisms from teachers unions, competition from public schools and the constant need to raise capital. Our research will cover both corporate charter chains as well as community-based charters.

The rankings by U.S. News of the best charter high schools seem like a good place to start. Charter schools are public schools that operate under charters and have been released from some of the regulations governing traditional public schools. Charter schools tend to have limited enrollment and usually accept students through an application process. The following are the nation’s top charter schools, as calculated by U.S. News. Read… Continue reading

Readers of The Character Building Project have asked me, what exactly is the message of my forthcoming book: Courage in America: Warriors with Character? The book is mainly about the courage of the seven wounded warriors and their families successfully recovering from traumatic injuries. Their courage in the long war of rehabilitation is key as Samuel Johnson reminds us: “Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other.”

My message is that courage of the seven wounded warriors and their families is not only the key to their successful rehabilitation and ultimate reintegration to civilian life but also their courage unlocks so many other positive character traits. The success of the seven wounded warriors recovering from traumatic injuries is possible not just through advances in medical science but by practicing the virtues they learned at home… Continue reading

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