Michael J. Kerrigan


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Because the National Training Seminar – Day** of the Military Child Education Coalition is coming soon, I thought a good way to envision the outcome of this year’s training would be to read a testimonial of a mom who attended this event last year.

Day 1 was very interesting and informative! The theme is “Grit-Determination-Perseverance” and is homage to our Military children. These are words that describe what our kids possess and what we as parents, educators, and members of the communities surrounding our Military installations, can help enhance and encourage within them.

I appreciate the theme and will say that I have seen those three qualities displayed countless times in the Military kids I have known, including my own!

One of my favorites quotes states “Courage is not always a roar. Sometimes it is a small voice saying I’ll try again tomorrow.” I’m sorry to say I… Continue reading

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

This post from Crisis Magazine is dedicated to Brigid, my highly educated daughter who, each Christmas, helps improve my taste in classical music, fables and  poetry. Her Christmas book gift this year  was The Complete Book of Fables of La Fontaine. Those of you with more pedestrian taste may enjoy the following lesson in manhood (and character) … By James P. Bernens

For a particular poem to retain its power across years and generations, it must give expression to something that transcends the passing of time, and do so in such an exquisitely memorable manner that it simply cannot be imitated or remade. Competitors and critics may sally forth and give it battle; lesser authors may adopt its theme or mimic its style; but its image will remain—an image somehow more perfect, and more captivating of a deeper truth, than any… Continue reading

The following substantive response to my June 6th review of Natural Born Heroes is by Michael Sabbeth, one of The Character Building Project’s most valued readers.


I share a few thoughts on your illuminating review of Natural Born Heroes.

The topic of heroism is timely and its resonance at this time is illustrative, perhaps, of a sense that no heroes are noticeable in our culture, and, one might persuasively argue, indeed, none are on the planet.

I do not share that sense; for I believe that we are drenched in heroes, but these heroes are not the type that generate fame and notoriety. The analysis of the “The Art of the Hero” is, to my mind also, the most significant issue raised directly and inferentially in McDougall’s book.

As a prelude before stating my comments on the hero issue, I share my skepticism about McDougall’s assertion that those who… Continue reading

By Michael G. Sabbeth, Esq.*


In Polymnia, the Seventh Book of the History of Herodotus, Demaratus, a betrayed Spartan, warned Persian King Xerxes against attacking the Spartans. “Valour is an ally whom we have gained by dint of wisdom and strict laws,” he said. Xerxes, scoffing, said the Spartans were weak because they are free menunder no direct authority. Demaratus admonished Xerxes, “They are the bravest of all. For though they be free men, they are not in all respects free. Law is the master whom they own; and this master they fear more than thy subjects fear thee… It forbids them to flee in battle…and requires them to conquer or die.”

Xerxes ignored Demaratus and was defeated in the naval Battle of Salamis.The Spartans fought for a noble purpose, not personal glory or wealth.

Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer-SS, commander of the German Schutzstaffel(SS), the Nazi concentration camps… Continue reading



Hopefully, all the readers of The Character Building Project will have time to read, The Meaning of Their Service in today’s WSJ. For those who cannot make time, I offer a few excerpts from the article by General Mattis, a retired four-star (U.S. Marine Corps) and former commander of U.S. Central Command, and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.

General Mattis call to revive the American spirit is reminiscent of scene from Shakespeare, Henry V (“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…”) a speech to rally the warriors in the English camp.

Here follow a few excerpts from, The Meaning of Their Service, General Mattis explanation of how veterans can help revive American optimism.

So long as you maintain that same commitment to others and that same enthusiasm for life’s challenges that you felt in yourself, your shipmates, your comrades and buddies, you will never… Continue reading



From time to time, during my visits to various VA hospitals I witness some soldiers, unwilling to get off their meds, leave of their hospital beds and take the painful path to recovery. I worry about them and their future

I also have the privilege of meeting many other warriors, who ease off their meds and leave their hospital beds to partake in painful rehabilitation. In witnessing the courage of these warriors I get fired by helping to spread their message of hope in the future and profile their positive growth after traumatic injuries on my web site. http://thecharacterbuildingproject.com/warriors/#.VNu6Clqsbdk

It is my hope that other warriors will learn of the success of many soldiers overcoming combat stress and the invisible scars of war. I pray warriors having problems with depression, anxiety and those that may be contemplating suicide will have a change of heart and get the professional help… Continue reading

Often I wonder what motivates some wounded warriors to get off of their meds, get out of their hospital beds and endure the arduous path of a successful rehabilitation from their combat injuries? Is there a single ingredient, key to the successful rehabilitation of Wounded Warriors?


My initial impression was reflected in Courage in America: 7 Warriors with Character. Surely the courage they demonstrated in combat also carried over to their long war of rehabilitation. As I continued to meet and write in The Character Building Project about many other warriors who exhibit growth after traumatic injuries, I came to appreciate, in addition to courage, they possessed amazing will power, accountability and hope. Their heroic recoveries resulted, in part, by taking ownership and responsibility for their own future. But could this will power be exhausted and were there hidden challenges to the recovery process?

One warrior who has demonstrated positive… Continue reading


The Source to recovery: S.R.C. = Strength. Resilience. Courage.

– Steve Baskis


I am writing this for the first time and these are my own opinions and thoughts. I do not feel that I have any answers, but only life experience and challenges that have influenced my recovery from a traumatic injury. All that I ask from the reader is to have an open mind and the ability to see things from a different perspective.

Over the years since my injury a question has come to mind, “Why haven’t I given up on life?” Even better, “Why has life been so rewarding and full of opportunity after living through a traumatic life altering injury such as blindness?”  I would have to say, the question is not easily answered, but at least I can write down my thoughts and evaluate who I was and who I am now.

From… Continue reading


From time to time I receive comments on The Character Building Project regarding the mottos and quotes posted on the site. Given these comments, I thought a good way to begin the New Year is by listing these general truths, which in my opinion, make a wise comment about human behavior in general and are consistent with how I see character.


Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome

The happiness in your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

Marcus Aurelius


Look at a man in the mist of doubt and danger, and you will learn in his hour of adversity what he really is



A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one, finds a treasure.

Sirach 6:14


Human nature is the one constant through human history. It is always there.



Luxury destroys more efficiently than war.



Yield… Continue reading


This poem was chosen by Major General John A. Lejeune, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, as his favorite of all the Marine Corps verse written during the war. It is republished here by permission of the author and of the publishers, Reilly and Lee, who hold the copyright.

IT was thick with Prussian troopers, it was foul with German guns;
Every tree that cast a shadow was a sheltering place for Huns.
Death was guarding every roadway, death was watching every field,
And behind each rise of terrain was a rapid-fire concealed

But Uncle Sam’s Marines had orders: “Drive the Boche from where they’re hid.
For the honor of Old Glory, take the woods!” and so they did.

I fancy none will tell it as the story should be told–
None will ever do full justice to those Yankee troopers bold.
How they crawled upon… Continue reading

This weekend I had another session with Dr. Rafael Triana, the notes of which follow.

Military character has a unique legacy through the ages.

Aristotle thought of the military as emblematic of a notion of heroic virtue and the best of society.

Rousseau appreciated military virtues. They were (and still are) based on personal character traits leading to conformance and cohesion to a social (military) order. Military virtues focus on unity of purpose, obedience, loyalty to the leadership, and uniformity of rules. The U.S. Army values promoted today are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.

William James in the Moral Equivalent of War, stated… “The war party is assuredly right in affirming and reaffirming that the martial virtues, although originally gained by the race through war, are absolute and permanent human goods. Patriotic pride and ambition in their military form are, after all, only specifications of a… Continue reading

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