Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.


Coming close

Q: What's the right response when you come tantalizingly close to success but fail to achieve your goal? How hard is it to recover from heartbreaking setbacks like the ones the Washington Redskins have endured in recent weeks? How often have you experienced reversals that tested your own spirit?

I know what it is like to come close and have nothing to show for it -- except experience and the determination to win next time. When we built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982, we had setback after setback thrown in our path by opponents to The Wall. In each instance, we found creative ways to deal with the obstacles and never let ourselves be sidetracked from our goal. And the result was a universally loved memorial on our National Mall.

I have remembered those lessons as we work to build the Education Center at The Wall. In May 2002, legislation authorizing the Center was about to be passed after more than two years of dedicated grassroots work when ... the legislation was removed from the Senate calendar at the last minute! And this wasn't the first time we got close to our goal, only to be disappointed. Each time, it looked like years of work was going up in smoke.

But we didn't give up. In 2003, we tried again, and the bill was passed that November.

Working for a goal year after year and experiencing defeat after defeat takes a toll, to be sure. But, the people working with us on this project are a determined group, and we knew that if we wanted to prevail, we simply needed more determination and a positive attitude. I'm happy to report that our determination paid off: The Education Center is now making excellent progress, and we hope to break ground in 2012.

When you get knocked down, you need to summon your inner strength and get up again. And as for the Redskins, they have my condolences nearly every Sunday. I am hoping their determination pays off soon, too.

By Jan Scruggs  |  December 10, 2009; 1:14 PM ET  | Category:  elusiveness Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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