November 2017 Newsletter: Voting for Character

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            This week, I buried two of my favorite heroes in a quiet country cemetery deep in the heart of central Pennsylvania.

            My parents, John and Carol Sprout, died within six weeks of each other. They’d been married a week shy of 67 years. They were devoted to each other, their family, their church, their schools, and numerous charitable organizations. They were remarkably honest, fair, smart, grounded, and generous people. Dozens of their friends and former students attest to that. Mom was an elementary school teacher and an artist. Dad was a high school math teacher and a mentor to hundreds of students. Their modest, civic-minded, unassuming lives were quiet examples of the power of steadfast love. They were models of good Character.


            For 22 years I’ve visited thousands of schools singing my songs about men and women of good Character who made the right choices and became heroes. My intent has been to inspire children and their grown-ups by showing how possible it is to become a real hero. I tell my audiences to imagine living the best versions of their lives, never letting go of lofty dreams. I’ve made it one of my missions to point out the differences between most heroes and celebrities. Unfortunately, many Americans are obsessed with celebrities and gossip “news” programs where the rich, the beautiful, the crass, and the noisy are rewarded with attention.

            Although some of my heroes were passionate politicians, I’ve steered clear of present day politics in my school concerts, in part because of what Mom and Dad would say: “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything.” But, Mom and Dad also exemplified how important it is to have good Character and to stand up for our beliefs.


            Tuesday, November 7, 2017 is an election day. It is our responsibility as citizens to understand the issues and vote our conscience every time there is an election. I challenge all my teacher, principal, and parent friends to teach their children:

            Vote in every election. Vote for the candidate with the best Character.

            Leaders with Character are sincere, honest, courteous, responsible, charitable, humble, knowledgeable, and uplifting. Great leaders recognize their job is to serve, not to be served. I take pride in knowing dozens of school principals, teachers, and parents who are great examples of this kind of Character.

            Voting is a civic duty as important as paying taxes and obeying the laws of the land. We should understand the issues with every election, but know that they sometimes evolve. Character is less likely to change. Abraham Lincoln shifted on a number of issues throughout his presidency. He was a great president because his Character informed him in making the right decisions, even when it meant shifting on issues.

            Vote in every election. Vote for the candidate with the best Character.

            Theodore Roosevelt protected and preserved one-fifth of America—230 million acres of land. He was the only person ever to receive a country’s highest military honor and the Nobel Peace Prize. He accomplished so much because he understood one’s character is as important as one’s accomplishments.

            Vote in every election. Vote for the candidate with the best Character.

            Susan B. Anthony selflessly devoted more than 50 years to the cause of women’s rights as she delivered some 4,000 speeches all over America. She died 14 years before women were even able to vote in a presidential election. If you ever think about not voting, remember her sacrifices.

            Vote in every election. Vote for the candidate with the best Character.


            It’s what my parents taught me, and it’s what we must diligently teach our children.

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