Michael J. Kerrigan

Thomas Jefferson

My next several posts are largely influenced by reading Ben Sasse’s, The Vanishing American Adult, Our Coming of Age Crisis and How to Rebuild A Culture of Self-Reliance. In my opinion, the most worthwhile chapter is, Build A Bookshelf.

I agree with Senator Sasse that becoming literate is an essential step in rebuilding our culture. Reading requires a degree of attention, engagement and active questioning of which most of our students today have a deficit.

Having recently retired to Keswick less than three miles from Shadwell, Virginia, (where Thomas Jefferson was born) it is fitting I begin with the Sage of Monticello, the author of the Declaration of Independence, the father of the University of Virginia and among the most educated of the Founding Fathers.

Thomas Jefferson began his education with French, Latin and Greek when he was 9 and entered William & Mary when he was 16.… Continue reading


Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Having relocated my family on Independence Day from Great Falls, Virginia to Keswick in Albemarle County, Virginia, it has been among our many blessings to frequently visit Monticello and the University founded by Mr. Jefferson. Living amidst Mr. Jefferson’s shadow  is rewarding to become steeped in his values. Thomas Jefferson proposed that one should follow truth wherever it may lead. He believed that grit, resilience, and robustness are the core ethical values needed to survive and grow in greatness. Mr. Jefferson exhibited those core values when he overcame overwhelming odds in giving birth to our nation. He turned adversity into victory for all Americans.

Many of today’s wounded warriors, like Mark Holbert embrace the same Jeffersonian values of grit and resilience to thrive against daunting odds as they struggle to recover from combat injuries in service to our country. As Mr. Jefferson did, they must draw… Continue reading

Thomas Jefferson proposed one should follow truth wherever it may lead. He believed that grit, resilience, and robustness are the core ethical values one needs not only to survive but also to grow in greatness. Mr. Jefferson faced overwhelming odds in giving birth to and growing a new nation, through his determination, grit and resolve, he turned adversity into victory. Many of today’s wounded warriors thrive against daunting odds, channeling Mr. Jefferson’s ethical core by declaring their own Independence, taking back their lives and pursuing happiness.

Contrary to popular belief our veterans are not “damaged goods” or are all painted with the broad brush as having a “disorder.” Our veterans are honorable, capable, warriors ready to take on the next great adventure for their country.

Most wounded warriors are willing to do whatever it takes to overcome their traumatic injuries and wounds of battle. If they have the support… Continue reading

University students devote considerable time to studying science, philosophy, religion and art. Wise students use these disciplines to seek the answer to the question Aristotle asked centuries ago: How should one lead one’s life? As students leave school and progress onto their working career, hopefully, they will have gained some insights and answer that question correctly. After college life becomes as the poet T.S. Eliot describes: “As we grow older, the world becomes stranger, the patterns more complicated.” It takes moral strength to lead one’s life well, to persevere over a lifetime in the discharge of our duties to God, family, and country. Continue reading

The next member of the character community to be introduced is Frank Hill. Upon returning to North Carolina after a 22-year ‘hiatus’ in Washington, D.C., and after witnessing the meltdown in 2008 of the financial community in Charlotte, Frank was struck by the fact that many people were ‘mad’ about the situation and especially the lack of political leadership in Washington that directly led to such a terrible outcome. Continue reading

Even though the Character Building Project’s Mission and several mottos are posted on our site, several readers have asked me to display these quotes in a single blog. Besides my aphorisms cover more leaders and this post is much cheaper than buying Nicholas Taleb’s new book (The Bed of Procrustes.) Continue reading

The principles of the Republic, as narrated in the Declaration of Independence, gave understanding to the meaning of the Revolution. Nine years later George Washington, in his June 1783 letter of farewell to the Army, warned Americans of the need to establish the identity or “character” not only of the young Republic but also for generations to come. Continue reading

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