William Donovan was a committed and persistent man.
"Wild Bill" Donovan was born in 1883 and lived until 1959. In his 76 years, he led the way and laid the groundwork for our modern Central Intelligence Agency or "CIA".
Mr. Donovan served in World War I with much applause. He earned the Medal of Honor and then continued to consume and learn from historical battles - looking for lessons from history that could be applied to his generation.
Through his travels abroad and through books, he was convinced in the 1930s that we would soon be at war and his efforts helped to convince his old college classmate, Franklin D. Roosevelt that proactively collecting information to track international affairs was worthwhile. When Japan attacked the United States on December 7, 1941, an official gathering point of intelligence was formed, the Office of Strategic Services or "OSS".
Donovan was known for his relentless efforts to equip the OSS with the information it needed to help the United States during World War II.
Like most good ideas in their infancy, Donovan had some real challenges from his critics. General Douglas MacArthur was not a fan, nor was Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI. Donovan kept working however to accomplish his end goal. Eventually, after President Franklin Roosevelt passed away, Harry Truman disbanded the OSS. But then in 1947, Truman launched the CIA. The CIA was not lead by Donovan but many ex-OSS operatives were influential in the CIA. Donovan's efforts were indeed not in vain.
Donovan's efforts remind me of a principle all of us would do well to observe and learn from. Persistence does indeed pay for itself.
How many philosophical or political ideas have you and I witnessed over the years that when introduced are utterly shunned and then over time are slowly accepted as "mainstream"? We can probably all point to good and evil efforts to change society's attitudes - all driven by courageous individuals who dare to persistently represent their individual cause.
Even on the local political stage, I have witnessed firsthand the impact of a persistent approach and the power of consistency in a message.
We must recognize both the danger and opportunity that resides in this principle. Our culture is and has been bombarded by those who continuously push the outer-edges of our moral code. The result has been various painful consequences. At the same time, we have seen advances in other areas - such as racism - through the effort of courageous individuals who refuse to let criticism deter their efforts.
First and foremost, we must cautiously consider the causes we support and understand that our effort for or against will indeed have a lasting impact on not only ourselves but those around us - our children, friends, and acquaintances, as well as our communities and Nation.
Second, we must not lose heart in our efforts to improve our Constitutional Republic. We are only limited by our ability to dream and our unwillingness to fight for that dream. I weary of those who have told me repeatedly that "it can't be done". Indeed, some things might be difficult to conceive of accomplishing but it is even more difficult for me to conceive of not accomplishing them. We must engage passionately and persistently in perfecting our Union, one issue and one heart at a time.
History not learned from, will be repeated!