Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

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Sacrificing for a dream

Q: Is it wise when athletes pursue success at the expense of their educations? Simon Cho dropped out of high school to train as a short-track speed skater, and his father sold his business to pay the bills. The teenager ended up surprising everyone -- including himself -- by making the U.S. Olympic team. Is tunnel vision a good thing in pursuit of such a demanding goal? Are extreme sacrifices necessary, or foolish?

Single-mindedness, determination and a clear sense of purpose are all necessary when an individual is striving to achieve a difficult or distant goal. In our normal lives, it is good to have balance, but when a person is trying to achieve the extraordinary, extraordinary measures are often necessary.

I know many successful people who have made great achievements in business, law, medicine and other fields who got there due to sheer determination -- going through life with blinders on as they ate, drank and breathed their quest to achieve a dream.

I, too, have been described that way. In 1979, I had no idea of how to succeed when I began the effort to create a national memorial to honor those who served in Vietnam. For three intense years, there were battles to be fought in Congress, with the bureaucracy and in the media. Creating this memorial required total commitment 24 hours a day, from me and a team of dedicated individuals. But our efforts paid off: In 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Now, my organization, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, is pursuing another dream: to build an education center on the National Mall that will teach about the values of America's defenders and put faces to the names on The Wall. This effort started nearly 10 years ago, but the commitment of our team is making it happen. Visit www.buildthecenter.org to learn more.

As for Simon Cho, I believe he and his working-class family deserve our respect. They are willing to sacrifice nearly everything they have to make this, their version of the American Dream, a reality. Tommy Lasorda once said, "The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination." The Cho family has proven they have the determination it takes to succeed.

Good luck, Simon. Bring back a medal for the good old USA!

By Jan Scruggs  |  February 15, 2010; 6:01 AM ET  | Category:  Determination Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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