Rising to the Challenge
By JAMES H. OFFUTT, Navy League National President
In this issue you will find profiles, personal accounts, from members of the sea services and others
who support our nation’s military. I
believe they all exhibit courage.
Throughout his career, John F.
Kennedy suffered numerous ailments. During recovery from spine
operations in 1954, he decided to
put his recovery period to good
use. Then-Sen. Kennedy and his
aides began a book profiling
American politicians throughout
the Senate’s history whom he
admired for their courage and individualism in the face of party and
Kennedy was particularly struck by how these eight
senators were willing to risk their political careers to
maintain the integrity of their personal value systems
and their love of country. This book, of course,
became “Profiles in Courage,” which was published
in 1956 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography
Kennedy never defined courage itself in the book.
This omission was deliberate: He preferred readers
define courage for themselves as they encounter the
virtue in the specific examples that he has provided. A
careful reading of “Profiles in Courage” makes it clear,
however, that Kennedy saw courage as the willingness
to stand one’s ground regardless of the consequences.
While all of Kennedy’s examples were drawn from
politics, this type of personal integrity is applicable to
any sphere of endeavor. The ordinary citizen who
refuses to be swayed by mob psychology would, in
Kennedy’s view, be no less courageous than the eight
senators who were the focus of his study. I believe that
the sea service person who takes on the mission of his
or her unit also demonstrates courage.
Courage, as defined in the dictionary, is:
■ The power or quality of dealing with or facing danger, fear and pain.
■ The courage of one’s convictions; the confidence to
act in accordance with one’s beliefs.
■ To take one’s courage in both hands; to nerve oneself to perform an action.
The latter two define our everyday life, while the first and second
definitions could be applied to
courage under fire. In the 1996
military drama “Courage Under
Fire,” the person playing the part
of president of the United States
has the following lines: “Few of us
are given the opportunity, even
fewer the courage to sacrifice ourselves for the lives of our comrades. In daily life, even as in battle, each one of us is mysteriously
and irrevocably bound to our fellow man. And yet, it is only in
death that the power of this bond
is finally tested and proven. And
who among us really knows how he might respond
when the moment comes?”
Courage is exhibited in extreme conditions, such as
those described by retired SEAL and decorated veteran
LT Jason Redman, who told attendees at the Navy Ball
in October that he survived an ambush in Iraq thanks
to precision targeting and his “teammates’ tenacity and
But one need not be in military service or another
profession where your life is on the line to exhibit
courage in the face of life’s challenges, be they present-
ed at home, at the office, with family or with friends.
Courage is in each one of us.
The stories in this issue of Seapower show us that
people from all walks of life rise to the challenge of
serving. Not all of them are in the sea service; some
support the vital activities of the calling through work
in industry or on Capitol Hill.
I hope you enjoy their stories and come away feeling
that our country is very well served by this generation.
The Navy League — Trusted Partner of the Sea Services
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / FEBRUARY 2014