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  • Writer's pictureCalibre Engineering

Independence Day Tribute: Honoring the Legacy of American Role Models

By Gregory Murphy, President of Calibre Engineering

In observation of July 4th, Independence Day, I like to take space away from social media and the digital screen, which can sometimes divide us, to remember great American role models that have embodied the common spirit of our Country, which serve to unite us.


In Chronological Order:


John Adams (1735-1826)

The second President of the United States and a leader of the American Revolution, John Adams fought for religious freedom while, at the same time, being dedicated to his own faith. He fought for freedom of the press, understanding that there are two sides of every story.  He assisted in drafting the Declaration of Independence, urging the Country to move forward in its independence from Great Britain.


Frederick Douglas (1817-1895)

A powerful American writer and former slave, Frederick Douglas was an important leader for the African-American civil rights movement. He taught himself to read and write and published the first abolitionist newspaper – The North Star. He is known for his autobiographies, which document his time as an enslaved person. Many times, he risked his life and his family’s safety in fighting for, and successfully achieving, meaningful changes to legislation to protect the rights of African Americans after the civil war. 


First Sergeant Robert John Simmons (-1863)

A fallen war Veteran, First Sergeant Robert Simmons served in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War. Fighting in notorious battles like the battle at Fort Wagner, the 54th was long honored for its bravery and sacrifice in the American Civil War. First Sergeant Simmons, like many African American soldiers in the first World War, was only narrowly documented for his war service and was brought back into American History by scrupulous effort on the part of historians.  Letters documenting First Sergeant Robert John Simmons’ service mention his commendable character and call for the recognition of his special merit.


Dr. Victor Heiser (1873-1972)

Dr. Heiser lost his entire family in the Johnstown Pennsylvania flood at age 16. He forged a new path for himself, pursuing a career in public health and disease prevention in the 3rd world. In his career, it is said that Dr. Heiser may have saved an estimated two million lives. He believed in bringing people, agencies, and stakeholders together to work in unity to support disease prevention and public health and welfare.


William Joseph “Wild Bill” Donovan (1883-1959)

Originally passionate about academia, Wild Bill spent time studying religion, politics, law, and the arts. With the onset of the World Wars, Wild Bill served in both World War I and World War II. He was a distinguished serviceman of the US military, being awarded the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the National Security Medal, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart. Notably, Wild Bill was offered the Croix the Guerre, but turned it down in honor of one of his fellow soldiers who was not offered the award due to his religious affiliation.


Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

Former First Lady of the United States (1933-1945), Eleanor Roosevelt served as the US Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly and fought tirelessly for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, publicly flaunted against the Jim Crow laws in Washington DC as first lady and worked to fight against lynchings.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

In his life, Dr. Martin Luther King was perhaps one of the most well-known civil rights activists, standing against the Jim Crow laws and legalized discrimination. A compassionate Baptist minister, Dr. King believed in the power of nonviolent resistance, and he believed in the power of togetherness. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and he is widely acknowledged for his contributions to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.


We have been preceded by great people, and we are walking on their shoulders. We have the advantages of a world of freedoms and benefits because of their hard work. It is nice, perhaps even necessary, at least once a year, to reflect on their legacy.


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