In 1982, Ronald Reagan invited Lenny Skutnick, the government employee who dove into the icy waters of the Potomac River to rescue passengers following the crash of Air Florida Flight 90, to sit with First Lady Nancy Reagan in the House of Representatives balcony during the State of the Union address. Since that time, Reagan and subsequent presidents have found it useful to recognize during major presidential addresses ordinary citizens responsible for extraordinary acts of citizenship. In this book, Stephen ...
In 1982, Ronald Reagan invited Lenny Skutnick, the government employee who dove into the icy waters of the Potomac River to rescue passengers following the crash of Air Florida Flight 90, to sit with First Lady Nancy Reagan in the House of Representatives balcony during the State of the Union address. Since that time, Reagan and subsequent presidents have found it useful to recognize during major presidential addresses ordinary citizens responsible for extraordinary acts of citizenship. In this book, Stephen Frantzich tells the fascinating stories of forty heroes who have earned this presidential recognition and explores the larger context of whether they represent a presidential gimmick or a touchstone with the American spirit. Taken together, the stories of how they got there, their decision to allow themselves to be used as symbols, and the impact of the recognition tells a great deal about the presidency, politics, and the role of heroes in American society.
Since Ronald Reagan began recognizing every day heroes during his State of the Union address, the practice has become a regular expectation of this rhetorical genre. Stephen Frantzich takes us on a historical journey, telling the story of people chosen to illustrate sweeping lessons of heroism, bravery and daily hardships. In doing so, we gain greater insight into the symbolic and visionary power of an administration to set the tone and agenda for a nation, while also learning how each individual copes with this brief moment of fame.
Dr. Frantzich has done a wonderful job of examining an important trend in presidential communication: the identification and praising of 'ordinary' American heroes in State of Union addresses. At a time when so many politicians disappoint, we can find comfort in these extraordinary citizens who faced crises with bravery, intelligence, and hope.
Steven E. Schier
Frantzich provides an incisive study of a new form of presidential rhetoric. His account contains some fascinating stories, and asks us to consider how to define heroes and how to honor them. It's a book deserving a wide readership among general and classroom audiences.
Introduction: Lenny Skutnik Part I Chapter 1: State of the Union Chapter 2: Heroes Among Us Chapter 3: Heroes in the Gallery Chapter 4: Bruce Ritter: A Broken Covenant Chapter 5: Stephen Trujillo: "One for the Money, Two for the Show…"
Chapter 6: Clara Hale: Hale and Hearty Chapter 7: Minh Nguyen: Moving to the Right End of the Grenade Chapter 8: Trevor Ferrell: You Don't Gotta Be A Saint Chapter 9: Richard Cavoli: A New Challenge Chapter 10: Shelby Butler: On Guard Chapter 11: Kevin Jett: Jett Plain Part II Chapter 12: Chief Stephen Bishop: Chief Concern Chapter 13: John Cherry: A Cherry on Top Chapter 14: Cindy Perry: Payback Chapter 15: Jack Lucas: From Playground to Battlefield Chapter 16: Aaron Feuerstein: Fire and Nice Chapter 17: Lucius Wright: Doing the "Wright" Thing Chapter 18: Richard Dean: Dropping the Other Shoe Chapter 19: Jennifer Rodgers: Still Running Chapter 20: Dr. Kristen Zarfos: Just What the Doctor Ordered Chapter 21: Sue Winski: Excused Absence Chapter 22: Elaine Kinslow: Ill-fare?
Chapter 23: Michael Tolbert: Turn off the Da… Radio Chapter 24: Jeff Taliaferro: Bone Headed Chapter 25: Suzann Wilson: A Little Child Shall Bleed Them Chapter 26: Rosa Parks: Parking a Complaint Chapter 27: John Cherrey: Leave No Comrade Behind Chapter 28: Carlos Rosas: Father out of the Hood Part III Chapter 29: Steven Ramos: Si or See Chapter 30: Hermis Moutardier and Cristina Jones: Sole Danger Chapter 31: Janet Norwood and Safia al Suhail: The Mothers' Connection Chapter 32: Wesley Autrey: On Track Chapter 33: Tommy Rieman: From Battleground to Playground Chapter 34: Julie Aigner-Clark: Infant Recall Chapter 35: Dikembe Mutombo: Two Points Part IV Chapter 36: Ty'Sheoma Bethea: Not Separate, but Not Equal Chapter 37: Storyteller-in-Chief Appendix 1