Can you imagine a time of student excellence? A time of student recognition? The Madison Enterprise-Recorder, of January 22, 1932, records such a time. They presented a story of a young man, Colin Kelly, Jr., recognized for his essay on “The Citizen I Most Admire,” by the local Madison P-T-A. That essay, espousing “Good Citizenship,” by one so young, in 1932, follows:
The Citizen I Most Admire
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 but honesty from a different angle. One may be honest in money matters and also with his time, but may be destroying his neighbor’s 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 of 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.” Howitzer This bit of prophecy for Madison’s Cadet Colin Kelly, Jr., was in West Point’s 1937
“A combination of Irish blood and Southern sunshine has given Kelly the best qualities of both. Equally famous for his drawl and friendly smile. A temper, perhaps, but one that rises to defend the principles that he cherishes. He’s positive in his opinions; vigorous in his actions. All-around ability and a knack of making friends bespeak a bright future for him, and those of us who really know him will be glad to say: “I knew him when.”
1. Colin Kelly, Jr. Courtesy of Evelyn Lamb and Elmer C. Spear.