This week, I buried two of my favorite heroes in a quiet country cemetery deep in the heart of central Pennsylvania.
My parents, John and Carol Sprout, died within six weeks of each other. They’d been married a week shy of 67 years. They were devoted to each other, their family, their church, their schools, and numerous charitable organizations. They were remarkably honest, fair, smart, grounded, and generous people. Dozens of their friends and former students attest to that. Mom was an elementary school teacher and an artist. Dad was a high school math teacher and a mentor to hundreds of students. Their modest, civic-minded, unassuming lives were quiet examples of the power of steadfast love. They were models of good Character.
For 22 years I’ve visited thousands of schools singing my songs about men and women of good Character who made the right choices and became heroes. My intent has been to inspire children and their grown-ups by showing how possible it is to become a real hero. I tell my audiences to imagine living the best versions of their lives, never letting go of lofty dreams. I’ve made it one of my missions to point out the differences between most heroes and celebrities. Unfortunately, many Americans are obsessed with celebrities and gossip “news” programs where the rich, the beautiful, the crass, and the noisy are rewarded with attention.
Although some of my heroes were passionate politicians, I’ve steered clear of present day politics in my school concerts, in part because of what Mom and Dad would say: “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything.” But, Mom and Dad also exemplified how important it is to have good Character and to stand up for our beliefs.