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Long Reads

English

What American Moral Leadership Should Look Like

At a time when so many American politicians have become a disgrace to their offices, it is easy to forget what real public service entails. The top leaders of past generations were guided not by ambition or self-preservation, but by duty to their country and those less fortunate than themselves.

November 27, 2019: William Ruckelshaus, whose resignation as US deputy attorney general alongside Attorney General Elliot Richardson proved critical to the downfall of President Richard Nixon, has died at the age of 87. In an era riven by populist mendacity and arrogance, his life stands apart for its devotion to public service and simple decency. This recent PS Long Read recounts Ruckelshaus’s long service to his country.

NEW YORK – The United States today does not look much like former President Ronald Reagan’s description of a “shining city upon a hill.” Strategic thinking, moral clarity, accountability, integrity, and courage seem foreign concepts to President Donald Trump and many other current US leaders. So, it is a good time to reflect on the example of Americans who have actually lived up to the county’s ideals.

Consider a father-son duo who reshaped America’s military. Their story begins during World War II, in the Solomon Islands. Victor, a young Marine Corps officer, is wounded and bleeding through his uniform; he is aided by Jack, an equally young Navy officer who administers first aid. A grateful Victor promises that if he survives, he will bring Jack a good bottle of whiskey.

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