It was my parents dream that each of their four children would one day attend college. You see, they were married at 17, where they left high school early to raise their family. In all, they had four children, three boys and one girl.
Understanding the difficulty of making it in life without an education, they impressed upon us that college would not be an option. It would be a requirement. As my oldest brother Robert neared his junior year at Lansdowne High School in Baltimore, my father made an appointment with the Vice Principal to discuss College. The Vice Principal indicated that kids from Baltimore Highlands had little chance of making it into college, let alone into the United States Naval Academy! This was a remarkable statement, and one that thankfully, our parents did not accept.
During the months that followed, my parents worked tirelessly to navigate the college admissions process – a process that was foreign to a family that had never seen a college diploma. Through great sacrifice and persistence, my bother Robert was accepted into “NAPS”, the Naval Academy Preparatory School. After studying at NAPS, he was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Four years later, Robert stood before thousands of proud parents and was presented a degree from Caspar Weinberger, the United States Secretary of Defense.
Herein lies the great reality of the American Dream. Opportunity begins with hard work, sacrifice and yes, persistence. The strength of our fathers and mothers and our families, will open doors to a life that offers greater possibilities. This theme runs throughout the American fabric. Namely, that every generation should have an opportunity at a better life.
Today, we hear leaders in Annapolis & Washington say that hard work doesn’t matter – that the American dream is dead. These leaders speak to their own failures and prey upon fear & envy. They seek to divide people by race and socio-economic status. I categorically reject these leaders because, well, I started at the bottom. It’s time that we elect people who speak to our aspirations and show us the pathway to a better life. It’s time to renew the American fabric that has made us an exceptional Nation. Every Generation!