CBS Sunday Morning featured a story about the ‘Profile in Courage Award’. In 1989 the Kennedy family wanted to honor a citizen in public life for taking the high road even when it cost them dearly.
It’s a sterling silver lantern made by Tiffany’s which was designed by Edwin Schlossberg. It’s patterned after the lantern on the one of the oldest ships in the US Navy, a sail-powered, three-masted, heavy wooden hulled frigate also known as “Old Iron Sides”. President George Washington named it after the United States Constitution.
John Kennedy had scarlet fever when he was young and had serious back problems when he got older. So in a way he had to fight just to stay alive. But he stood up against powerful interest in Massachusetts to fight for the St. Lawrence Seaway. He fought for a Labor Reform Act in 1959. He shouldered the blame for the failure for the Bay of Pigs incident. He forced the Soviet Union to withdraw their missile sites off the island of Cuba.
He wrote Profiles in Courage when he was recovering from a spinal injury. He chose to write about eight US Senators who stood up for what they thought was right even when it cost them dearly to include their jobs.
I walked past a book store and saw the book (Profiles in Courage) and bought it. As a baby boomer I remember the man who became the 35th President of the United States. At 43, he was the youngest President elected to the Oval Office and the youngest to die in office. He was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas Texas. I remember that day because I was still in junior high school in Detroit Michigan.
The list of recipients is long but I remember a few:
US Senators John McCain & Russell Feingold in 1999 for Public Service in trying to get big business out of politics.
John Lewis in 2001 for Lifetime Achievement
Kofi Annan in 2001 A Ghanaian Diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1997 to 2006. Annan and the UN were also co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.
Edward M. Kennedy in 2009 for a lifetime of public service.
Gabrielle Gifford in 2013 for demonstrating a fearless public advocacy for gun control after surviving an assassination attempt that left her with severe brain injury.
George H.W. Bush in 2013 (41st US President) for a lifetime of public service.
Barrack Obama in 2017 (44th US President) for his enduring commitment to Democratic ideals during trying times.
Mitch Landrieu in 2018 (Mayor of New Orleans) for rebuilding the city of New Orleans and removing Confederate Monuments in the city.
Nancy Pelosi in 2019 as the First Female Speaker of the House.
What kind of profile of courage will you perform? You don’t have to be a public servant but you can be the leader of your family or your community. In a world where everybody wants to blend in, it take courage to stand out.