Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Who would be your choice be for most significant American of the 20th century?

Many people would list Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the most important American of the 20th century because his optimistic spirit lifted the doubts and fears of the collective American public when jobs were scarce and the stock market bubble of perceived wealth and security popped.

He also led the war against an imperialistic empire that did not understand or value the lands and cultures its army occupied (Japan) and helped destroy the German empire that similarly considered themselves and their society as the norm and pinnacle of human society.

Some might nominate Edison, but most of his most significant inventions were before 1900. Sorry, that's like a movie that comes out of the end of the year and doesn't make the top grossing films of the year or of the next year. Hey, it's my blog. I set the rules.

What if I were to ask who is the most significant American individual in the second half of the 20th century? Some might say John F. Kennedy, carrying over the political theme where political leaders are credited with changing and guiding a group of people. But Kennedy got us into Vietnam. The guy I'm thinking of did more than anyone to end the Vietnam war.

Some might say the greatest individual was whoever started the environmental movement. The guy who started Earth Day did nothing else positive as far as I can tell. The fellow who started the Whole Earth Catalog might have raised awareness of the earth as an ecosystem by putting a portrait of the round Earth on the covers of his catalogs, but I think he was more into providing tools and information for the alternative lifestyle known as the counterculture or anti-establishment or hippie. Don't ask me what I was doing during those years.

The guy who did more than anyone to end the Vietnam war probably also did more than anyone else to start the environmental movement.

Others might say that Martin Luther King was the greatest American of the 20th century. True, it was his genius that saw that the only way to fight a well-armed and entrenched belief system was to clearly show that one disagreed with that system but without violence. It showed bravery beyond what I can imagine. I can't argue with that choice. But the fellow I'm thinking of was probably the most important individual in the civil rights movement other than Dr. King.

Taking all his efforts and accomplishments into consideration, you might say that this guy is perhaps the person who changed our world the most in the past 100 years. And he's still doing it.

To be continued...
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