Bill Murchison

The Denton experience and the comparable experiences of brother P.O.W.'s such as John McCain and Sam Johnson (the latter now a Dallas-area congressman) provided inspiration and pride during a morally debilitating time. All these years later, their stories imprint on minds and hearts the narrative that stock portfolios and sports contracts count for nothing as against virtues of the sort that Jerry Denton held up for our notice.

We gaze, or should, into the future. What contemporary America teaches its up-and-coming about the ingredients of character -- honor, obligation to others, veneration for truth -- will matter in the end more than how many technological wonders they bring forth, how many prizes and awards they pile up. A Jerry Denton on the torture rack is worth 100 Wall Street wizards or 500 sports heroes with no more important mission than that of heaping the moolah higher, ever higher.

My personal, semi-fearful observation is that we don't worry half as much as we once did about the teaching of character in all possible forums and outlets -- schools, homes, churches, sports, business, books, movies. I could be wrong; but if I am right, it wouldn't hurt a thing for "When Hell Was in Session," duly reprinted, to come pouring anew from the presses: a beneficent tide of knowledge and moral encouragement.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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