Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

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What really matters

Q: Is the culture of celebrity and reality TV eroding our understanding of what constitutes success? What should we tell our children about people such as Tareq and Michaele Salahi who apparently crashed a White House state dinner in pursuit of reality TV fame?

It does seem that our culture of celebrity is being fueled by the proliferation of reality television programs, and it makes me wonder whether young people are getting some wrong ideas about success. Do they think that success comes from personal accomplishment or from staging a publicity stunt for television, such as the "Balloon Boy" debacle or crashing parties at the White House?

I hope that, in spite of the slim attention true achievement sometimes garners, children realize what really matters. Winning the Nobel Prize for a scientific discovery is much more important than pulling off a publicity stunt, although the Nobel Prize winner may only receive a press clip here and there, but the publicity hounds are likely to end up on Larry King or Oprah.

I look at people whose accomplishments are not heralded on reality TV as the true success stories. Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor of a group of Navy Seals who fought in Afghanistan, was awarded the Navy Cross. His story is an inspiring story of personal valor.

The dedicated teachers and public servants who do so much for our society every day are the real success stories, too. We need to show them more appreciation, but there does not seem to be room for them on the airwaves.

Our kids deserve better role models that what the world of reality TV holds up to them.

By Jan Scruggs  |  December 3, 2009; 12:22 PM ET  | Category:  notoriety vs. success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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