The story is told of a prosecuting attorney in a small town courthouse called his first witness, an elderly woman, to the stand. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?”
President Calvin Coolidge was famously known as a man of few words. His nickname was “Silent Cal.” His wife, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, told the story of a young woman who sat next to her husband at a dinner party. She told Coolidge she had a bet with a friend that she could get at least three words of conversation from him. Without looking at her he quietly retorted, “You lose.” Coolidge understood very well the value of using only carefully considered words—and those being few in number.
Marla Runyan gave her all to qualify for the Olympic Games in 1996, but her best time finished short of the mark to make the United States team. Undeterred by that failure, she returned in 2000 and made the team for the Sydney Olympics. Her eighth place finish in the 1,500 meter race was the best finish ever for a United States woman runner. The thing that makes Runyan’s accomplishments even more remarkable is that she is legally blind. She is the first legally blind athlete to ever qualify for and compete in the Olympic Games.
Every day when the sun rises over Washington DC, its first rays fall on the eastern side of the city’s tallest structure, the 555-foot Washington Monument. The first part of that monument to reflect the rising sun is the eastern side of its aluminum capstone, where these words are inscribed: Laus Deo, Latin for “Praise be to God.” This compact prayer of praise, visible to the eyes of heaven alone, is tacit recognition of our nation’s unique acknowledgment of the place of God in its founding and its continuance.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the flag
That flew over valley forge
Was torn in two by the gray and blue
And bled through two world wars.
I give you the flag that burned in the street
In protest, in anger and shame,
The very same flag that covered the men
Who died defending her name.
We now stand together, Americans all,
Either by choice or by birth
To honor the flag that’s flown on the moon
And changed the face of the earth.
At a tea for officers and their wives, the commanding general of a base delivered a seemingly endless oration. A young lieutenant grumbled to the woman sitting beside him, “What a pompous and unbearable old windbag that slob is!”
The woman turned to him, her face red with rage. “Excuse me, Lieutenant. Do you have any idea who I am?”
“No ma’am,” the man fumbled.
“I am the wife of the man you just called an unbearable old windbag.”
“Oh,” said the lieutenant. “And do you have any idea who I am?”
“No,” said the general’s wife.
When a man asked George Mueller the secret of his service, Mueller responded: “There was a day when I died, utterly died; died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied to show myself approved only to God.”
Source: The London Quarterly Review, Volume 92
Daniel Sulmasy (then head of the Bioethics Institute of New York Medical College) made an interesting discovery while observing dying patients in a hospital. He aimed cameras at the doorways of terminally ill patients and tracked the number of minutes they spent alone. He said, “More than eighteen hours a day, there was no one in the room.”
In May of 2001, Erik Weihenmayer accomplished something that only about 150 people per year do—reaching the top of Mount Everest. The thing that made Erik’s achievement unusual is that he is the first blind person to succeed in scaling the tallest mountain in the world. Erik was born with a disease called retinoschisis, and by the time he was thirteen he was completely blind. Rather than focus on what he could not do, he made the choice to focus on what he could do and went much further than almost anyone expected.