Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln
Rosemary is a Horrific Kennedy Tale
If you already don’t like the history of the wealthy Kennedy family, this book will likely take you over the top.
Kate Clifford Lawson published a book entitled Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015), which exposes information that is not well known to casual followers of the clan. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015), which exposes information that is not well known to casual followers of the clan.
Lawson received her doctorate in History from the University of New Hampshire. Her first book was a biography of Harriet Tubman, Bound for the Promised Land , published in 2003. Next was The Assassin’s Accomplice, about Mary Surratt and her role in the assassination of President Lincoln, published in 2008.
Problems for Rose Marie “Rosemary” Kennedy began when her mother was forced to delay her birth, as a nurse, waiting on a doctor to arrive, forced her to remain in the birth canal for two hours, resulting in a loss of oxygen. She was born on September 13, 1918, and was the first daughter born to Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., and Rose Fitzgerald. Rosemary was the eldest sister of the three Kennedy brothers, John, Robert, and Ted. This is her last-known picture, before her death on January 7, 2005.
You get the feeling throughout the book that she was an embarrassment to the Kennedy family. While she was beautiful, she was not nearly as talented in school and sports as her siblings. The cause was a mental disability, for which her father authorized a prefrontal lobotomy for her at age 23. The procedure was a failure, and she was permanently incapacitated. She spent the rest of her life in an institution in Jefferson, Wisconsin, with minimal contact from her family. Her condition is believed to have inspired her sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, to start the Special Olympics.
As an example of the likely embarrassment she represented, the book discusses the way that Rosemary’s existence was hardly acknowledged during JFK’s 1960 campaign to the White House, even though he stated that conditions such as hers should be brought out into the open.
The book is not the only work that has addressed Rosemary. Yet, it is well-researched and documented, and perhaps it will inspire other writers to research even more about her.
King’s Speech was Great – But Not the Greatest!
I am frequently asked what I think was the greatest speech of all time. I receive these questions since I coach professional presenters in the marketplace, as well as teach business presentations as part of the MBA program in the College of Business at the University of Dallas. I think that many people like to benchmark features of their own presentations against famous speeches that they are familiar with.
Since we recently passed the 50th anniversary of the great “I Have a Dream” speech by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., you have likely seen several editorials about the context, the speaker, and the speech. I will not repeat any of these here as they are readily available for you. There is no question in my mind that it is one of the greatest of all time, but it is not THE greatest.
That honor goes to the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who at the Democratic National Convention in 1988, gave the most inclusive presentation I have ever seen. That evening, he put it all together. There is no single presentation that I have seen which embodies all of the elements of successful speechmaking this well. No matter what you wish to critique – projection, tone, eye contact, posture, gestures, language, verbal and vocal variety, storytelling, and on, and on, and on….this speech is a model. I am especially impressed when I see how he touches all elements of his audience – young and old, white and black, rich and poor, able and disabled, male and female, and any other demographic classification that you want to examine. I especially encourage you to watch Part 7 by clicking here. He would be nominated for the presidency of the United States the next evening. Had he been elected, I think he would have been powerful with foreign leaders, but would have had great difficulty passing legislation through his own bodies of congress.
Two other items about this speech stand out to me. First, he has energy. Even 75 minutes from the beginning, Jackson has the same enthusiasm he started with. Second, he puts elements from the African-American pulpit into a political speech very successfully. As you watch Part 7, note features such as repetition, parallelism, cadence, etc., which you would see any Sunday in this type of church.
So, for what it is worth, here is my list of the top five American speeches of all time, with links to a YouTube version of the speech where available:
1. Rev. Jesse Jackson – 1988 Democratic National Convention
2. President Ronald Reagan – Challenger Explosion Speech – January 28, 1986 – in just 4:40, he settles down the country, gives hope to children who watched the broadcast, praises NASA, and restores faith in the United States space program.
3. Robert F. Kennedy Announces Death of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. – April 4, 1968 – en route to a political campaign stop in Indianapolis, RFK receives word of the King assassination, and speaks from the heart in an attempt to unify the country which could experience significant polarization; he holds an envelope with scribbled notes that he barely refers to.
4. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. – “I Have a Dream” – August 28, 1963 – an electrifying, sincere, and emotional presentation filled with striking metaphors and allegories that marks a transition in civil rights
5. Jim Valvano – ESPY “Don’t Ever Give Up” – March 3, 1993 – filled with terminal cancer, the famous NC State basketball coach stirs the crowd with hope, passion, and humor
You may ask where are these American speeches? Yes, they are great, and likely in a “top 20,” but….
JFK inaugural address – January 20, 1961 – upbeat and enthusiastic, but disorganized, and one famous line does not make an entire speech famous
Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg Address – November 19, 1863 – we all memorized it, but our effort is why we probably think it is great
Richard Nixon “Checkers” Speech – September 23, 1952 – the first of many defiant and denial attempts by an elusive liar
Barbara Jordan addresses Democratic National Convention – July 12, 1976 – a remarkable address by a woman of color who left us way too soon, but she was the star, not the speech
What do you think? Do you have other favorites? Let’s talk about it really soon!
Clarity; Gratitude – on this Veterans Day
Mr. Wabash (John Houseman):
I go back even further: to ten years after the Great War, as we called it. Before we knew enough to number them.
Higgins (Cliff Robertson):
You miss that kind of action, sir?
No… I miss that kind of clarity.
(a slice of dialogue from the 1975 film, Three Days of the Condor)
It’s Veterans Day. We honor our military veterans. My step-father, my father-in-law, my mother-in-law, two brothers, one son, and his wife, have all served our country in my immediate family. We are proud, and grateful.
No wars are easy, or remotely pleasant. Recently, our movies have gotten, apparently, closer to the truth about the brutality of war. (The beach-landing scene in Saving Private Ryan is gut-wrenching)…
But lately, I have been reading about the Civil War. I read major excerpts of The Cornerstone Speech, delivered by the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, Alexander Stephens. (This is in a book, The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta by Marc Wortman– I am presenting a review to a group in Dallas next week). It is crystal clear in its intent. It put forth the reason for the war – to reject the “faulty premise” that “all men are created equal.” Here’s an excerpt:
(Jefferson’s) ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. … Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner–stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition.
The Cornerstone Speech reminds us that wars are fought over great causes. I think the idea that “all men are created equal” is non-negotiable. Here is a portion of a speech given by Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (text here) from the movie Gettysburg.
This regiment was formed last summer in Maine. There were a thousand of us then. There are less than three hundred of us now. All of us volunteered to fight for the union, just as you did. Some came mainly because we were bored at home — thought this looked like it might be fun. Some came because we were ashamed not to. Many of us came because it was the right thing to do. And all of us have seen men die.
This is a different kind of army. If you look back through history, you will see men fighting for pay, for women, for some other kind of loot. They fight for land, power, because a king leads them or — or just because they like killing. But we are here for something new. This has not happened much in the history of the world. We are an army out to set other men free.
America should be free ground — all of it. Not divided by a line between slave state and free — all the way, from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow. No man born to royalty. Here, we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was. Here, you can be something. Here, is the place to build a home.
But it’s not the land. There’s always more land.
It’s the idea that we all have value — you and me.
What we’re fighting for, in the end, we’re fighting for each other.
To fight for a great cause is a noble effort. And though there may be other wars that lack such clarity, to fight for freedom is a great cause. And, such fighting has kept us free. We are grateful.
Such clarity is clearly evident in this, the greatest speech ever given on American soil, according to some, delivered on November 19, 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, following a battle that cost a full 51,000 human lives (according to best estimates – there is debate as to the most accurate count).
Here’s the speech:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met here on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled, here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The Battle Of Midway, One of Many Great Battles To Remember On This Memorial Day
(These quotes come from Ben Bradlee’s essay, The Turning Point: The Battle of Midway, included in Defining a Nation, edited by David Halberstam).
This is what they called a decisive battle.
On May 7, 1942 (five months after Pearl Harbor), American forces under General Wainwright surrendered in the Philippines. The Americans gave up a “tactical victory” to the Japanese at the Battle of Coral Sea.
The scene was now set for the critical sea battle of World War II, the Battle of Midway.
On one side was the greatest sea force ever assembled – more than two hundred Japanese combat ships, including eight carriers, eleven battleships, twenty-two cruisers, sixty-five destroyers, twenty-one submarines, and more than seven hundred planes. The fearsome Admiral Yamamoto was in command. The size is no easier to grasp today than it was on June 3, 1942. This armada was divided into three groups: a four-carrier strike force approaching from the northwest; an invasion/occupation force approaching from the west; and a main battle force of the battleships between the other two.
On the other side, Admiral Nimitz had only three carriers, eight cruisers, and fifteen destroyers. One of the carriers, the Yorktown, had been so badly damaged at Coral Sea that experts said it would take three months to repair her, but 1400 repairmen managed to patch it up in a Pearl Harbor dry dock in two days. Nimitz split this force into two groups – one commanded by Admiral Fletcher, the other by Admiral Raymond Spruance, a last-minute substitute for Admiral Bull Halsey, who had come down with a severe case of shingles. Many students of the Pacific war consider Spruance to have been its greatest American admiral.
The rest of the essay tells the story of the battle. The key “lucky break” for the Americans was an almost simultaneous attack on three Japanese carriers, all three of which happened to have planes and ordnance on the deck, loading fuel, making them sitting/defenseless targets.
Japanese planes on all three carriers were warming up for take off. Gasoline lines snaked across all three decks. Ordnance was stacked everywhere to reload returning planes… In less than ten minutes time, the tide of the war would turn.
When the Japanese commanders finally learned that the Hiryu was sunk, the fate was clear. The invasion of Midway was aborted. The tide of the Pacific war had definitely turned. The Japanese would never again be on the offensive.
I am certainly not a World War II expert. In fact, I know few of the details. I know that my wife’s father was a young, 20 year old signalman who watched his companion killed in front of his eyes from a direct hit by a kamikaze attack, just feet from where he was standing. (No, he has never been able to talk about it with me). But I know that the effort, the courage, the doggedness of countless people gave us our way of life, and, yes, many gave “the last full measure of devotion.”
And I also think this. All progress, all victory, in war and in every thing else, is fought one campaign, one battle at a time. We write the history in big phrases. But it was the single pilot, flying next to the other single pilots, working together in first this battle and then that battle, with their individual acts of courage, that describe the “bigger named” battles (the Battle of Midway), that ultimately led to the biggest description – we won World War II.
It’s Memorial Day. It is right to remember those who deserve our memories, and their memorials – those from the earliest days of this nation to the ones who carry on with individual acts of courage in places far from home today.
And so, as always, we remember these words from Lincoln, after one so very costly battle – one single battle that cost nearly as many lives as the loss of American life in the entire Vietnam War:
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Personal note: if you made me clear out my library of all but a handful of books, one that I would keep is this volume edited by Halberstam. You can buy it used from Amazon for as little as $4.00, including shipping. It is a great volume! I encourage you to order a copy, and read it slowly.
Here’s a title you will probably never see — “The World’s Great e-mails”
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
I’ve had quite a trip down memory lane today. First, I thought about a faded old volume which was faded and old when I bought it. Then, I thought of where I bought it. And then I thought of all that will be lost because of the arrival of modern technology.
Here’s the story. I opened my usual web sites this morning, and here was this wonderful article on Slate.com.
Hey, Mr. Postman: Why e-mail can never replace the letter, by Megan Marshall. She writes:
It never fails. No matter the place—cocktail party, lecture hall, classroom—whenever someone learns that I spent 20 years researching and writing a biography based on the handwritten letters of three 19th-century sisters, the question is promptly raised. How are biographies of 21st-century subjects going to get written when people today just don’t send letters—or, if they do, their letters take the evanescent form of e-mail?
So, as I read her article, I thought about my books in storage. They’ve been there for quite a few years. I need to sell them, but don’t want to part with them. Most of them are from my full-time ministry days, but many are not overtly ministry related (I confess, my speaking is still a kind of “ministry,” and everything is related. But that’s another discussion).
The volume that popped into mind was The World’s Great Letters. I have no idea if my volume is the one pictured here – I know that the cover was different. But I loved that book, and it is one that I need to rescue from storage and rediscover. It was the book that introduced me to Lincoln’s letter to Mrs. Bixby. Yes, I know that some of the facts behind the letter are in dispute – but who cares. It truly is one of the world’s great letters.
And thinking of the book brought to mind a wondrous oft-repeated experience from my Long Beach, California days. There was this used book store in Long Beach – Acres of Books. I swear the name was apt. You could get lost in there, as I frequently did. As much as I appreciate Half-Price Books in Dallas, there is simply nothing to compare to that beloved Acres of Books. They had every kind of book imaginable – acres of them. There is no telling how much (time, and money) I spent in that store – but I loved the hours I spent walking the aisles, sitting on the floor, even reading the clippings that they taped/glued/posted on the ends of rows of book shelves. Acres of Books even has its own Wikipedia entry – sadly, it is now closed.
Now closed – which brings me to the unstoppable march of modern technology. Not only has the internet threatened all of the book stores, new and used, it has threatened the very way we think and write. For example, at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California, scholars can pour over original manuscripts from renowned authors (including, among many others, the original manuscript of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography), seeing the very editing marks left by the authors themselves. Today, in many instances, only a final draft survives. With the click of a mouse, we hit save, and the editing decision, and example for future writers, is lost.
So, yes, the Slate.com article was correct. E-mail cannot replace the letter. And I do not expect to ever read “The World’s Great E-mails,” much less “The World’s Great Tweets” or its companion volume, “The World’s Great Text Messages.”
I welcome the new technology. It has helped in so many, many ways. – But, also…what a loss.
Is all the business world a field or court?
A quick stroll through the business section of a bookstore or a search through the management section of an on-line retailer will quickly reveal the plethora of titles available from sports figures. Working from the analogy that the activities inherent around a basketball court, a football field, or a baseball diamond simulate the activities in the workplace, many current and former athletes and coaches have penned treatises teaching us how to be successful on the job. Topics for these books include leadership, management, motivation, teamwork, self-improvement, finance, and others.
A great recent example of this is the book by John Wooden that we featured at the First Friday Book Synopsis and that you can purchase at 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com. This book is also accompanied by videos, manuals, and training courses. No one can question Wooden’s success as a repetitive NCAA champion head basketball coach at UCLA. You could say the same thing about practically any of these authors. After all, who would read a book from a loser? I learned a long time ago in attending conventions of the National Speakers Association, that if you want to be successful in the business, follow the path of a successful speaker, not a failure.
Here are some others:
Rick Pitino – head basketball coach at the University of Louisville: Success Is a Choice: Ten Steps to Overachieving in Business and Life
Fran Tarkenton – former NFL quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants: What Losing Taught Me About Winning: The Ultimate Guide for Success in Small and Home-Based Business
Mike Ditka – former NFL head coach for the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints: In Life, First You Kick Ass: Reflections on the 1985 Bears and Wisdom from Da Coach
The assumption behind all of these books is that the activities and best practices which yielded success for these authors in sports are relevant and applicable to what we do at work. Therefore, a manager can use the techniques that a head coach uses, employees are players, competitors are opponents, strategies are plays, pilots or rollouts are practices, groups should become teams, and so forth. We can use terms and phrases such as, “she struck out today,” “this looks like a home run,” “he’s our quarterback,” and “we’re in a sand trap.” You get the point.
I think that there is some legitimacy to this, although I can tell you that in teaching my MBA courses at the University of Dallas, students are tiring of the sports analogy in business, particularly for teamwork. You may remember the series of silly commercials from American Express a few years ago entitled “Great Moments in Business,” where employees piled up on each other in a room after a successful presentation, and high-fived each other as if they had just won a World Series after a closed sale.
If you believe that the principles that motivate human beings are the same, no matter what the context, then you would have no problem with what these books try to do. Who would not advocate “practice” before performance, whether that is a presentation, a draft of a document or e-mail, or a pilot program prior to a national product introduction? The same principles and behaviors that qualify a group of people as a team on the court or field should apply on the job. Consider trust, which is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for teamwork. Without trust, there is no team, no matter where it is. We don’t have to talk about money – that’s an issue in the business of sports as much as the business of business. Some have a lot, and some don’t have enough. Some even go out of existence, such as the recent announcement that the 20-year Arena Football League will cease operations. Some look for outside buoyance. The Federal Government keeps General Motors alive. Major League Baseball did the same for the Montreal Expos before moving them to Washington, D.C. Every sports franchise is as much of a business as a firm on Wall Street, or anywhere else.
And, managers and employees can go through all the motions of strategic planning, just like coaches and players study a playbook, diagram motions, and run through plays on the practice field or court, only to learn that when they face a competitor, it is considerably different. Rarely is there a situation where the presence of an opponent is the not the cause of substantial modifications in strategy, and the possibility of failure.
Remember when George Will told us that baseball players are not the “boys of summer,” but rather, “Men at Work.” He argued that baseball managers, just as business managers, examine a set of complex variables in making decisions. And, that players perfect their skills on the diamond in ways that go well beyond how employees do the same in the workplace.
In conclusion, advice from sports personalities about business is probably no worse than the lessons we can read about based upon Abraham Lincoln, Jesus Christ, Machiavelli, or General Robert E. Lee. Like many of these sports personalities, they didn’t run or work for any of today’s companies, but authors have used their best practices to show us how to work better in our jobs.
Is all the business world a field or a court? Perhaps no worse than a stage. No matter how we do it, we all have to perform. The question is simply what resources we want to use to guide us to success.
Let’s talk about it. What do you think?