Michael J. Kerrigan


Among the many lasting memories of my most recent visit to West Point was to hear stories of old blood and guts…General George Patton. As the GI’s in WWII used to say, ”his guts and our blood.”

General George Patton

General George Patton

In thinking about the following quote from Patton, it occurred to me our exploration of character should expand beyond our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines to those warriors in law enforcement who also move to the sound of the guns.

Death must not be feared, in time, comes to all of us. And every man is scared in his first action. If he says he’s not, he’s a goddam liar. Some men are cowards, yes, but they fight just the same, or get the hell slammed out of them.

The real hero is the man who fights even though he’s scared. Some get over their fright in a minute, under… Continue reading

Over the New Year I was reflecting on the numerous blessings God has bestowed on my family and me. Among these many blessings has been the opportunity to  become friends with several wounded warriors, such as, the seven profiled in Courage in America as well as the likes of Josh Andrew, Bobby Dove, Mark Holbert, Ron Silk and other men of valor I have gotten to know. Please see all the warriors photo galleries read their interviews and stories at… http://thecharacterbuildingproject.com/warriors/

Awarded The Medal of Honor and earned numerous other medals and honors

Col. Day Awarded the Medal of Honor and earned numerous other medals and honors

In my opinion, these men are authentic patriots following in the shadow of one of our greatest wounded warriors, Colonel Bud Day. Robert Coram, in American Patriot, his highly regarded biography of Colonel Day, nicely captured the soul of such men:

“Military men are better than most of us. They live… Continue reading

I believe in the great intellectual tradition of the Judeo-Greco-Roman-Christian heritage.

I believe it is wiser to focus on the nobles rather than the knaves.

I have respect for the honest public servants faithfully doing their duty.

I believe in the imperative of civility in our discourse.

I believe principles and virtue can transcend partisan politics and personality.

I believe the virtue of citizenship is timeless as are the virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.

I believe in being trustworthy to all and loyal to your friends.

I believe truth and virtue will triumph over lies and deceit.

I believe trust placed wisely trumps cynicism.

I believe aspiring public servants should know there are standards of decency practiced by those who serve selflessly in the service of our nation.

I have been giving considerable thought to what principles, values, standards or rules of behavior guide Americans in civilian life. To be sure some professionals, such as medical doctors, must adhere to a code, for example, the Hippocratic oath. Most Americans would subscribe to the “Golden Rule.”

However, unless you are a member of the military, attending the University of Virginia, a medical doctor or a member of a religious order you, as a civilian, probably do not adhere to a code of conduct, honor or ethical code.

Throughout the ages, members of the warrior class have had a code of honor duty, loyalty and courage. Some times they would subscribe to such codes so that the rest of society would not corrupt them. Today, members of the United States Military fall under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Geneva Conventions and adhere to the Military Code of Conduct.… Continue reading

Over the Independence Day holiday, I had the distinct pleasure to meet Tommy Norman, the Founder and Chair of Charlotte Bridge Home. Please visit www.charlottebridgehome.org

Mr. Norman is a true Southern gentleman by breeding and training. The organization he founded has assumed the burden of dealing with the significant challenges of our service men and women face as they recover from wounds, find healthcare resources, pursue further education, and seek employment in a difficult economy.

Tommy is executing a vision of bringing the greater Charlotte community together to openly welcome and support those who have served on our behalf. One of his first steps was to forge an array of alliances, including partnering with the Foundation for the Carolinas. This foundation not only helped launch the organization but also funded a detailed analysis of the issues our service men and women are facing as they transition to civilian life in… Continue reading

Today, Memorial Day, Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander and leader of the NATO coalition in Afghanistan read a heart rendering letter from fallen U.S. Marine Sgt. William Stacey aloud during a Memorial Day service in Kabul.

He read it to honor Stacey’s memory, as well as all of those who died in Afghanistan since the war started back in 2001. “Today we remember his life and his words, for they speak resoundingly and timelessly for our fallen brothers and sisters in arms,” Allen said.

Here is the full text from Stacey’s letter, courtesy of the Seattle Times.

“My death did not change the world; it may be tough for you to justify its meaning at all,” Allen wrote. “But there is a greater meaning to it. Perhaps I did not change the world. Perhaps there is still injustice in the world. But there will be a child… Continue reading

Much of my research for Courage in America: Warriors with Character has been driven by this question: Why do some warriors recovering from traumatic injuries exhibit strong character and successfully transition to civilian life while others do not?

Several other questions followed from the first. Was their moral environment shaped at an early age and surfaced during their recovery from injury? Or did these warriors develop good character during their months of military training? If so, why were some patients able to apply this training to their successful rehabilitation, while others were not? How do some warriors turn adversity into recovery? What virtues are involved?

What are the bedrock virtues that define a warrior with character? Do the virtues that surface during rehabilitation have any relevance during a warrior’s transition to civilian life? Is strength of character as exhibited by traumatically injured warriors equally prevalent in the population of their… Continue reading

At a time when the Obama Administration appears to be embracing the young protesters in the “Occupy-Wall-Street Crowd,” many of these youthful protesters seem to be expressing values quite different from their counterparts in the military. Continue reading

Unlike the amoral agenda set by Professor Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago (please see last post), the education offered to potential Army officers does indeed include building a moral foundation for one’s actions.  In fact, the importance of developing a sound moral compass during West Point leadership training is reflected in their Cadet’s Prayer, a prayer in use there since 1924.

Continue reading

I am grateful for suggestions from readers of the Character Building Project as they have added value to our study of courage. It is proving to be a more complex topic than I first anticipated.  Because I recognize how probing the topic can be for young military  men and women who have experienced war zones, I want to prepare thoroughly, to hone well the interview questions that will shape this project.  I want them to be both empathetic and insightful. Continue reading

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