Monday, July 23, 2012

Introducing NSCIA-Houston’s Profiles in Courage segment: Charles Krauthammer

Before being elected president, John F. Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage, a Pulitizer Prize winning book which contains biographies of eight US Senators including Sam Houston, John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster who resisted their constituents and/or political party in order to do what they believed was right.  

With Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage as a model, NSCIA-Houston is launching its own version of Profiles in Courage. The NSCIA-Houston Profiles in Courage will highlight those who have suffered a spinal cord or brain injury and continue to pursue their dreams.

In 1972, Charles Krauthammer suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving accident during his first year of medical school.  Krauthammer hit his head on the bottom of the swimming pool and broke his spinal cord.  He was hospitalized for a year and two months following this injury.  Krauthammer explains life during medical school as he suffered from his injury:

I was a freshmen in medical school in my first year and ended being hospitalized for a year and two months. But since it happened at Harvard Medical School, in one of the swimming pools of the hotels at the complex, I ended up doing my year-plus stint as a patient in Harvard teaching hospitals so that I was able to do my second year of medical school in the hospital as a patient.  Even though I wasn’t able to attend any classes, I’d study at night. And they were very good at having the professors tutor me at night. Then I rejoined ­ ­ then I was released from the hospital, I rejoined my class for the third year. And then I graduated a year later.

Yet, he continued his medical education doing physical therapy during the day and studying at night.  Three years later, in 1975, he graduated from Harvard Medical School. 

Krauthammer continued to work hard and achieve success.  He began planning psychiatric research in the Carter administration and was a speech writer for Vice President Walter Mondale in 1980.  At the same time, he began contributing to The New Republic and by 1984, he won the “National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism” for his articles in the New Republic.

One year later, in 1985, Krauthammer started a column in the Washington Post which received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1987.  In 2004, Krauthammer won the Irving Kristol Award after his speech Democratic Realism to the American Enterprise Institute in which he laid out a framework for post 9/11 foreign policy in which he argued that there should be an international focus on promoting democracy in the Middle East while fighting terrorism.

As a commentator on Fox News, Krauthammer has earned the respect of his peers and even former Presidents of the United States, being called “the most important conservative columnist” by New York Times columnist David Brooks and “a brilliant man” by former US President Bill Clinton. 

Krauthammer was able to achieve his success by keeping a positive attitude about his injury.  In an interview, he said, “And what I resolved is I would never ­ ­ I would try never to let it change my life, or change the direction of my life.”  He says his day, “It’s like your day except it’s a little bit harder. You know, all the routine stuff takes a little bit longer, life is a little more expensive, but ultimately it’s not that different.”

Watch the full Krauthammer interview below.  Krauthammer begins to talk about his accident at 12:10.

Nick Bruno is a Legal Assistant at Thompson & Tredennick LLP, a law firm based in Houston, Texas. Joel Thompson & Ted Tredennick, partners at Thompson & Tredennick, serve as board members for National Spinal Cord Injury Association - Houston.

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