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Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


W.S. Merwin

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry

I was supposed to go and read at the University of Buffalo, and I didn't know until fairly close to the time of the reading that I was supposed to -- this was at the time of the Vietnam War -- I was supposed to sign a loyalty oath, not only to the Constitution of the United States, but if you please, to the Constitution of the State of New York, and I refused to sign the loyalty. We went around and around and around about all of the different ways around it, but they involved putting down my name and then putting riders under it that made it empty and I said that I don't see why I should do that. I mean, I don't believe in doing this, I don't think this has anything to do with loyalty, I think it has to do with entrapment. And I won't play the game and I just won't do it. And at that time, it was $1,000 for the reading, and they said, "We won't pay you," and I said, "Well, we'll see about that." And finally I agreed to go because a friend -- it was Robert Haas who invited me, and he was very embarrassed by the situation. He hadn't known about it to begin with.
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W.S. Merwin

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry

I went and gave this talk about being loyal, what loyalty really meant and why I wouldn't sign a loyalty oath and about the Vietnam War. And then I said -- and I published the talk afterwards in The New York Review of Books -- and passed the hat at the reading. I said, "This is a free reading," and passed the hat, not for me, I said, for the war resisters who have gone to Canada. When war resisters leave, this money will go to them. So, I raised several thousand dollars for the war resisters and the University of Buffalo was angry as could be. And Auden wrote and said that if he didn't know me -- he didn't know me very well -- he would have thought the whole thing was a publicity stunt. And I wrote -- I spent two days over the letter -- answering Auden with deep respect saying, you know, we completely disagree. This was a public situation which I didn't ask for, and I had a right to make a public statement at that time and to use it because I think we're involved in something that is so wrong and so really shameful and we've told so many lies about it that if one has a strong position, one should speak out about it.
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James Michener

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist

I decided early on, very early on, that pornography was not for me. That I was able to write books, I hoped, that would be read by enormous numbers of people, without my having to engage in sadism, kinky sex, ultra-violent crime. Anything like that. And I've adhered to that, and I succeeded in that ball game. Now wait a minute. I have to apologize here. What crime is more violent than King David's? Sending his chief general out to be assassinated. Well, I think that some of the things my characters have done have in their own way been comparable to that. But I don't belabor it. I don't seek it out, and I have never cheapened myself in that respect. Would refuse to do so.
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Norman Mineta

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

When I was in the House, people would always ask if I would consider running for the Senate, but you know, when you run for the Senate, first of all, you have got to just raise a lot of money, especially in a big state like California. But I have always felt that when you are in the House, you represent people, when you are in the Senate, you represent interests. And I was always more comfortable dealing with people than interests.
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Norman Mineta

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

"Honey, this is what they are talking about." So she said, "You've got to talk to President Clinton and Vice President Gore. I said, "Yeah. Absolutely." So I called President Clinton. He said, "My inclination is you ought to do this." I said, "Well, I don't want to be diminished as a Democrat or thought of as a turncoat." He said, "No, no, no. We can give you cover on that. Don't worry about it." So anyway, then I talked to Vice President Gore, and he said, "Norm, I want to encourage you to do this." He said, "I didn't like the result of the election, I didn't like the Supreme Court decision, I'm still chafing from this whole experience, but I want to encourage you to do this, because you can be part of the healing process." So the next day, Saturday and Sunday, I talked to over 100 people, including just about every African American member of Congress. African Americans had voted 12 to 1 against President Bush, and if I was in this position, these are all good friends of mine in key spots, I didn't want them pulling the rug out from under me. So I talked to every one of them, and they all said do it, and it was really Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton who put it in perspective. She said, "Norm, we can't slam President Bush for not having a Democrat in the Cabinet, and at the same time, dissuade every Democrat from going on the Cabinet." She said, "You know Transportation. You chaired the Transportation Committee in the House, you know it. You used to always tell us that there were no such things as Democratic bridges or Republican highways. You really ought to do this."
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Norman Mineta

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

On the next day, we had a Cabinet meeting, and Congressman David Bonior of Michigan said, "Mr. President, we have a very large Arab American population in the Detroit area, and they are very concerned about what is going to be happening, and they are afraid of racial profiling," and the President said, "David, you are absolutely correct, and we don't want happening to them what happened to Norm in 1942. On that following Monday, the 17th of September, he had a meeting with Arab American and Muslim leaders at the Islamic mosque and study center in Washington, D.C., in which he said, "We know who the terrorists are. They are not you as loyal American citizens or as faithful followers of the Muslim religion, so don't worry about racial profiling."
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Norman Mineta

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

No matter where you go or what you do, always pay back to the community in some form. Now, people don't have to be elected to be in community service or in public service. To me, you could be well read, you could be a voter, but to do public service is an important facet, and so if a person is an M.D., they can still serve as a member of the Health Commission for a city or a county. They can still be doing, being a Planning Commissioner, Recreation Commissioner, whatever, because mayors and county commissions and governors and presidents are always looking for people who are willing to devote some time to public service and take their own background, their own expertise, and share that with the community.
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