Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Letter to Andrew Carnegie from Ted Sorensen

Theodore C. Sorensen [May 8, 1928 – October 31, 2010], former Special Counsel and Adviser to President John F. Kennedy and a widely published author on the presidency and foreign affairs... - letter from c 2008:

Dear Mr. Carnegie:

Your life and work had enormous influence on mine. You may think that most unlikely, inasmuch as you died in 1919, having reached the peak of your influence and fame in the late 19th century, and I was not born until 1928 in the state of Nebraska, far from the eastern regions of this country where you made your fame and fortune...

As a boy, I spent most Saturdays at the Carnegie Library in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, as did my four siblings. We borrowed every book we could, initially for our reading pleasure, later for research as members of the Lincoln High School debate teams on which all five Sorensen children participated over time, and from which we acquired a substantial portion of the writing, reading and research skills that we all used in our subsequent careers. The main library in Lincoln was built in 1899 with your grant of $87,000, one of the largest of nearly 70 Carnegie library grants scattered throughout the towns and villages of Nebraska.

Like my former boss and mentor, President John F. Kennedy, I have long believed that libraries at every level— community and university and national—have been among the most important institutions of education in our country, as they have since the dawn of civilization in others. They provide literature and learning to all who seek them. Countless Americans gained access to the great books of the world only through the hundreds of excellent libraries that dot this country, thanks to your recognizing both their importance and their inevitably high cost. It is because of you that so many of us have received those benefits—and the benefits of major museums, colleges and other institutions of learning, and we still do. (Those other great institutions of learning include, of course, Carnegie-Mellon University.)

Complete letter HERE.

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