Colin P. Kelly, Jr.: Backbone and CourageJul 4th, 2011 | By Submitted | Category: Editorials
Thanks to Nelson Pryor for finding the following. It is also printed in the Friday, July 2, 2011 Madison Enterprise-Recorder
Colin P. Kelly, Jr., age 17, delivered to this speech in front of the PTA
Originally printed in the January 22, 1932 Madison Enterprise-Recorder
The citizen I most admire has four salient characteristics, which if allowed to come to the front in everybody, would make us all ideal citizens. I say allowed to come to the front because I personally think that everyone of us possesses them but because some other quality or qualities overshadows them they are not given an opportunity for full development.
The first quality of the four is Kindheartedness. This includes pleasantness, sociability and obligingness. Unless this person is pleasant, sociable and obliging, he is not a good citizen. For to be a good citizen, one must mix with his or her fellow citizens and they not only won’t be inclined to do this but their fellow citizens won’t want them to be around unless they are pleasant, sociable and obliging.
The second of these qualities is Good Character. Let us consider the important characteristics of good character. Good character not only means honesty, truthfulness and the like, but it also embodies the Golden Rule, which is bust honesty from a different angle. One may be honest to money matters and also with his time but may be destroying his neighbors’ property in an unintentional manner. The good citizen is careful not to do this.
Next along the line of major characteristics comes that of Good Business Judgment. Without this, a citizen has no way of making money to put in his community enterprises. Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that to be a good citizen one must have money or a big business, but, with no business sense, he would be a failure and failures are setbacks rather than aids to any community.
Now, last, but not least by any means, is that essential and lacking characteristic in so many citizens today. That is Courage. Courage in business, courage in social affairs (and needed of course) courage in religious affairs. The courage to say yes or no, whichever your better judgment and conscience dictates at no matter what cost to your own interests. The citizen I most admire has the backbone and courage to face a hostile crowd or even public sentiment and do what he thinks is right. How many men or women or boys or girls have we in this land of ours who would do this? How many real honest-to-goodness good citizens have we? While courage is not the only essential quality of a good citizen, it is by far one of the most important. Without it, no citizen can do the most for his community.
In closing, let me say that while many of us have seen many people who at a glance seem to be good citizens, would they stand close inspection? The citizen I most admire will stand the closest inspection.