Giving Thanks for the Courage to Serve


By Kenneth L. Ender, President

Last week, Cumberland County College was delighted to formally break ground for our newest facility: The George P. Luciano Family Center for Public Service and Leadership. When it’s completed in July 2005, the building will house a conference center for the community and the college, meeting rooms and a high-technology forum room, and a resource room for county non-profit agencies. The building will be the home for the college’s Center for Leadership, Community and Neighborhood Development.

The development and construction of the facility would not have been possible without the generosity of the late George “Duke” Luciano Sr. and his family. We are so thankful for the vision and leadership of Duke. The Lucianos’ family philosophy will be prevalent in the building that bears their name: “Work hard, help others, expect only friendship in return.”

Many friends of the Lucianos and the college attended the ground breaking. We were also honored with the attendance of many of our state and county elected officials. Irrespective of party affiliation, all were unanimous in their support for the new facility as a training ground for emerging leaders, and as a place that could serve as “neutral ground” for the resolution of problems and challenges we will certainly face in the future. All pledged their support for the facility.

During the ceremony, as officials took their turn at the microphone, I was struck with the thought that it takes great personal courage to stand for public office. A person runs for public office knowing that there is always a chance for defeat. Candidates must publicly take positions on issues and justify their rationales. The candidates’ personal histories, and often the histories of their families, are open to public scrutiny. Nothing seems to be sacred with respect to public’s criticism of our officials. And this is probably appropriate.

But we must always remember that our officials are real people. Folks like you and me. They have the same challenges, joys and sorrows as all of us. And, unlike you and me, most of their lives are open for public inspection.

So we need to salute, praise and encourage those with the courage to run for public office and serve us, if we elect them. We can certainly exercise our right to change the leadership through the ballot box; however, while they serve, we should support our public officials when we can, challenge respectfully when we disagree, and at the end of day, thank them for working publicly on our behalf.

We hope the new George P. Luciano Family Center for Public Service and Leadership will inspire many residents to serve as community leaders. And we must do our part to be thankful and respectful to those with the courage to do so.