Charles Hayes: Today I feel very differently about the Vietnam War than I did in my youth, but my own feelings of guilt during that time give me a unique kind of insight into the psychology of courage and commitment. America has never had a shortage of courageous citizens willing to take up arms and fight to the death for reasons and causes beyond their own understanding. Arlington Cemetery in Virginia serves as proof. But my sense of the decades since the end of World War II is that America has and is experiencing a courage crisis of shameful origin and of tragic consequence.
Michael Sigman: Strong candidates for Part 2 included such stomach-churning charttoppers as Barry Manilow’s I Write the Songs (no, you don’t, not even this one, which was penned by Beach Boy Bruce Johnston), Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman (no, you’re not) and Starship’s We Built This City on Rock and Roll (no, you most definitely did not).
Tom Degan: That’s what I love about this guy! American history is littered with “Christian” religious leaders. Try as you might, you can’t escape them. The thing that sets Reverend King apart from most of these guys is the fact that he wasn’t a hypocrite. He never tried to twist the words of Jesus of Nazareth into anything other than what they were – a call to love one another and for kindness and gentleness. The Trappist monk Thomas Merton is another celebrated American Christian who took the gospel seriously. So was Dorothy Day. Please give me a day or two and I might be able to name more, but at the moment none come to mind. Both Merton and King died in 1968, Day in 1980. They’re gone and they’re not coming back.
In the summer of 2006 I attended the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard. One of the guest presenters was 95-year-old Johnnie Carr, the woman who took over the Montgomery Improvement Association in 1956 after the successful Montgomery bus boycott when Martin Luther King, Jr. went [...]