Some people would say courage is the absence of fear. if this is the case, then courage is a myth, evident only in legends. The truth is much different.
Courage is the ability to face a situation despite the odds and the fears standing in the way.
Courage is acting against selfishness and placing the well-being of other people before our own.
Courage has many names and faces. Some people were born to be leaders, some to be speakers, some to excel at athletics, some to make music. Sometimes people don?t get to choose their strengths.
Courage is not something that is just given to some people and not others, which is why it is so unique.
Courage can be seen in every American and is achievable to every American: rich, poor, famous, successful, homeless or ordinary. Despite popular belief, courage isn?t always accompanied by bravado or epic battles.
Mary Anne Radmacher understood this when she said, ?Courage doesnt always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ?I will try again tomorrow.?
Sometimes there are forces in our lives that we cannot control. But courage is something that you decide to have; it is something that you can control.
Courage is the reason the United States of America is an independent nation today. Residents of England who felt restricted in their religious beliefs and other freedoms, or desired a new beginning took a chance and embarked on a journey that gave them no guaruntees of a happy future. The risk of losing their lives was high at many points throughout the journey, yet they went anyway. They left behind everything familiar to them and hoped for the best.
Another example of courage can be seen in the men who met at the 2nd Continental Congress.
For years the thirteen colonies had been abused by England. Among some of these grievances was taxation without representation and having standing armies from England in America. Numerous times they had tried to negotiate with England and reach a peaceful agreement, but England would hear none of it.
Finally the delegates realized that the idea of reconciliation was impossible. They had come to America in order to be able to practice their freedoms, not have them stripped away.
On a somber, yet also joyous day, men from twelve of the thirteen colonies decided to declare independence from England. Thomas Jefferson was elected to write the document that would officially declare the separation of the thirteen colonies from England. To write such a document would be an act of treason, punishable by death.
On July 4, 1776, fifty-six men penned their name on the bottom of the Declaration of Independence. By signing this document, these men were committing treason for which the penalty was certain death. Not just any death either, a horrible death.
The penalty of treason during that time was to be hanged but not until death. Next the person would be taken down and then drawn and quartered. To know that this was the penalty and yet still willingly sign took a great amount of courage. Freedom was more important to these men than the number of days they had on this earth.
Just recently I learned about a little-known man who I think exemplifies great courage. When I say his name most of you will probably not recognize it; before this year I had never even heard of him. His story could consist of possibly only one line in history textbooks, yet his impact was monumental.
Not all accounts of courage are full of bravado. While his story is talked about little, the courage he displayed is equal to that of other well-known great men such as George Washington.
After Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, Andrew Johnson took over as President of the United States. Johnson was unliked by the radicals in the government. They called him ?undignified? and said he talked ?in a loud voice.? Months were spent trying to come up with infractions to charge him with. Finally they found a reason when Johnson broke the tenure of office act. This law was not even legal under the Cor)stitution but because of the power of the Radicals in the government this detail was overlooked. The House of Representatives soon impeached Johnson and a trial was held.
Edmund Ross was a senator from Kansas who was a juror at this trial. After two months of debate, a vote was ready to be taken. Ross?s vote would be the pivotal deciding vote. The night before the final vote, Edmund Ross received a letter from his constituents telling him to vote to convict Johnson. But Ross could find no grounds for Johnson?s impeachment and decided to vote against a conviction. Facing warnings that a vote for acquittal would end his political career, when the time came to vote Edmund Ross stood and quietly announced ?not guilty? to a stunned audience. Thirty six votes were needed to convict Johnson and remove him from office. The final count was 35-19.
Today, as Haiti deals with the aftershocks of a deadly earthquake, accounts of courage are all around us. Volunteers, doctors, and troops people from all over the world including the United States are making their way to Haiti to offer their skills or whatever may be needed of them. The situations they will face there will not be easy, but they already know that.
Courage is also shown through families in the United States who are adopting children from Haiti and rescuing them from the death and destruction. Acquiring another child is by no means a small endeavor. Usually many months of preparation, physically and emotionally, are taken. However, due to dangerous and time-sensitive circumstances, the timeline for this process has been cut drastically short. Yet because adults know that these children desperately need a home they have laid aside their trepidations and jumped in.
Courage does not require a big stage. In fact, hardly half of the acts of courage are probably even known. To me, America stands for courage. Being American means having choices, and being able to express those choices. Being an American also means continuing to move forward, despite the obstacles in our path because that is what it took to make America.
Oftentimes courage overlaps itself in other character traits. There is courage in perseverance, honor, respect, and responsibility. C. S Lewis, a famous writer, said ?Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.?