Excerpt: Mitt Romney's 'No Apology: The Case for American Greatness'

PHOTO: No Apology: The Case for American Greatness
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Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has written "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," in which he discusses America's role in international politics.

Read an excerpt from the book below, then check out some other books in the "GMA" library.

The Pursuit of the Difficult

I hate to weed. I've hated it ever since my father put me to work weeding the garden at our home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It was planted with zinnias, snapdragons, and petunias, none of which seemed to grow as heartily as the weeds. After what seemed like hours of work, I never could see much progress, and I'd complain to my dad. "Mitt," he would reply, "the pursuit of the difficult makes men strong." It seems now like an awfully grandiose response for such a pedestrian task. I complained about the weeding often enough that I heard his homily regularly. I'm sure that's why it sticks with me to this day.

My father knew what it meant to pursue the difficult. He was born in Mexico, where his Mormon grandparents had moved to escape religious persecution. At five years old, Dad and his family were finally living pretty well. They had a nice home and a small farm, and Dad even had his own pony, called Monty. But in 1911, Mexican revolutionaries threatened the expatriate community, so Dad's parents bundled up their five kids, got on a train, and headed back to the United States. Their furniture, their china, his mother's sewing machine — everything they had worked hard to accumulate — had to be left behind. Once back in the States, they struggled. They moved time and again, and work was always hard to find. My grandfather established a construction business, but he went bankrupt more than once. Dad used to regale us kids with claims that one year in Idaho his family lived on nothing but potatoes — for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Dad began to contribute to the family's income early on. During his high- school years he worked long hours as a lath- and- plaster man, finishing the interior walls of new houses. He never was able to put together enough time and money to graduate from college.

The Pursuit of the Difficult

Three decades later, by the time I was weeding that Bloomfield Hills garden, my father had become a successful businessman. I know he worried that because my brother, sisters, and I had grown up in a prosperous family, we wouldn't understand the lessons of hard work. That's why he put us to work shoveling snow, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, planting the garden, and of course, weeding — always reminding us that work would make us strong. About this time, Dad faced a difficult pursuit of his own. In 1955, only five months after he became vice president of the newly created American Motors Corporation (AMC), the company's president, George Mason, died and the board of directors selected my father to succeed him. With news of Mason's death and mounting losses, the company's stock collapsed from $14.50 a share to $5.25. The banks didn't have much more confidence in the company at that moment than its stockholders did. I remember hearing my parents discussing with certainty that if the banks pulled out, the company wouldn't survive.

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