William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony, was a remarkable leader who endured much from Europe to the coastal regions of North America.
Born in 1590 in a small farming town in England, he was only 1 year old when his father died, 4 when his grandparents took over his guardianship, 6 when his grandfather died and 7 when his mother died.
In 1620, at 30 years old, William and his wife, Dorothy, sold their house and joined the Mayflower expedition and sailed for America. Tragically, after enduring the difficult crossing of the Atlantic and while the ship was anchored at Cape Cod and the men were exploring on land, Dorothy fell overboard and drowned.
If that wasn't enough, William and the remaining Pilgrims had to face one of the harshest years of their lives, during which only half of them survived. Bradford himself got sick and wasn't expected to live, but he recovered.
In 1621, William was elected to be the second governor of Plymouth, and he was re-elected nearly every year thereafter.
One thing that has made America great is its long lineage of valiant leaders in every generation. These are the type of men and women about whom our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, said, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
One more extraordinary example of that type of leadership can be found in my friend and the new commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos.
In 2007, I visited our troops at 15 bases in Iraq with then-three-star Lt. Gen. Amos and four-star Gen. Bob Magnus.
After being recommended by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in June and endorsed by President Barack Obama in July, he was appointed on Oct. 22, which my wife, Gena, and I (among many others around the world) were thrilled to hear.
According to The Washington Post, military officials say Amos is an innovative thinker about future combat and a passionate advocate for finding additional resources to treat Marines diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. To boot, Amos is a man of great faith in God. And he's now the first Marine commandant with a background as a naval aviator. (In choosing Amos, Gates passed over Gen. James N. Mattis, who is one of the military's best minds regarding waging war on insurgents.)
Before Amos was selected as head of the Marine Corps, however, he weathered a rather unique vetting period. Amos' poise and leadership was vividly on display for the country and the world to see when he was grilled by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee for an hour in a hearing in which the questioning was almost exclusively about gays in the military.