Courage: The Virtue of a New Generation

By Billups, Andrea | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 1, 2001 | Go to article overview

Courage: The Virtue of a New Generation


Billups, Andrea, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Andrea Billups

As a value, courage has been touted by everyone from the philosopher Aristotle in ancient days to education reformer William Bennett in recent years.

"True courage," wrote humorist Mark Twain, "is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of fear."

The Bible also repeatedly speaks to the issue and to the importance of inner might in the face of hardship.

"Be strong and of good courage. Do not fear nor be afraid of them for the Lord Your God. He is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you," reads Deuteronomy 31:6.

Now, as the nation weathers a battle blow on its own soil and steels itself for a lengthy conflict, a new generation - one spared unlike others before it from the unnerving uncertainties of war - must embrace the virtue of being brave and staying strong.

Earl Tilford, a professor of history at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, expects the campus dialogue on courage to ratchet up as the United States wages a fight against terrorism, "particularly in this kind of war, where the enemy can and will strike us at home.

"We`re going to have to get back to the kind of courage that the British had in the Second World War when the Germans were bombing their city," said Mr. Tilford, a 21-year Air Force veteran who served as director of research at the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Penn.

Lessons on courage are not easily learned, particularly for college students, said Mr. Tilford, the author of three books on Vietnam. For most of them, inner fortitude has been shaped at a young age by parents, schools, churches and synagogues.

"I don't think you can say, here's how to be courageous," he said. "It's not a value system as much as it is a virtue system. When you start talking about courage, you start talking about deeply held convictions. In warfare, moral courage is as important as physical courage."

Courage can best be taught by example, said James MacGregor Burns, a professor at the University of Richmond's Jepson School of Management who wrote a biography of President Franklin D. …

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