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Richard Evelyn Byrd
October 25, 1888(1888-10-25) – March 11, 1957 (aged 68)
Lt com r e byrd.jpg
Place of birth Winchester, Virginia
Place of death Boston, Massachusetts
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1912-1927
1940-1947
Rank Rear Admiral
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor
Navy Cross
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross
Legion of Merit

Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr., USN (October 25, 1888 – March 11, 1957) was a pioneering American polar explorer, aviator and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Contents

Ancestry

He was a descendant of one of the First Families of Virginia. His ancestors included planter John Rolfe and his wife Pocahontas, William Byrd II of Westover Plantation, who established Richmond, and Robert "King" Carter, a colonial governor. He was the brother of Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator Harry Flood Byrd, a dominant figure in Virginia Democratic Party between the 1920s and 1960s.

Education and U. S. Navy

Byrd attended the University of Virginia before financial circumstances inspired his transfer to the United States Naval Academy in 1912. He learned to fly in World War I during his tour with the United States Navy. He developed a passion for flight, and pioneered many techniques for navigating airplanes over the open ocean including drift indicators and bubble sextants. His expertise in this area resulted in his appointment to plan the flight path for the U.S. Navy's 1919 transatlantic crossing. Of the three flying boats that attempted it, only Albert Read's aircraft the NC-4 completed the trip; becoming the first ever transatlantic flight.

Claimed North Pole flight, 1926

On May 9, 1926, Byrd and pilot Floyd Bennett attempted a flight over the North Pole in a Fokker F-VII Tri-motor called the Josephine Ford. This flight went from Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and back to its take-off airfield. Byrd claimed to have reached the Pole. This trip earned Byrd widespread acclaim, including being awarded the Medal of Honor and enabled him to secure funding for subsequent attempts to fly over the South Pole.

From 1926 until 1996, there were doubts, defenses, and heated controversy about whether or not Byrd actually reached the North Pole. In 1958 Norwegian-American aviator and explorer Bernt Balchen cast doubt on Byrd's claim on the basis of his extensive personal knowledge of the airplane's speed. In 1971 Balchen speculated that Byrd had simply circled aimlessly while out of sight of land.[1]

The 1996 release of Byrd's diary of the May 9, 1926 flight revealed erased (but still legible) sextant sights that sharply differ with Byrd's later June 22 typewritten official report to the National Geographic Society. Byrd took a sextant reading of the Sun at 7:07:10 GCT. His erased diary record shows the apparent (observed) solar altitude to have been 19°25'30", while his later official typescript reports the same 7:07:10 apparent solar altitude to have been 18°18'18".[2] On the basis of this and other data in the diary, Dennis Rawlins concluded that Byrd steered accurately, and courageously flew about 80% of the distance to the Pole before turning back because of an engine oil leak, but later falsified his official report to support his claim of reaching the pole.[3]

The Fokker FVIIa/3M - "Josephine Ford", on display at The Henry Ford Museum

Accepting that the conflicting data in the typed report's flight times indeed require both northward and southward groundspeeds greater than the flight's 85 mph airspeed, a remaining Byrd defender posits a westerly-moving anti-cyclone that tailwind-boosted Byrd's groundspeed on both outward and inward legs, allowing the distance claimed to be covered in the time claimed. (The theory is based on rejecting handwritten sextant data in favor of typewritten alleged dead-reckoning data.)[4] This suggestion has been refuted by Dennis Rawlins[5] who adds[6] that the sextant data in the long unavailable original official typewritten report are all expressed to 1", a precision not possible on Navy sextants of 1926 and not the precision of the sextant data in Byrd's diary for 1925 or the 1926 flight, which was normal (half or quarter of a minute of arc). Some sources claim that Floyd Bennett and Byrd later revealed, in private conversations, that they did not reach the pole. One source claims that Floyd Bennett later told a fellow pilot that they did not reach the pole.[7] It is also claimed that Byrd confessed his failure to reach the North Pole during a long walk with Dr. Isaiah Bowman in 1930.[8]

Considering that Byrd and Bennett probably didn't reach the North Pole, it is extremely likely that the first flight over the Pole was the flight of the airship Norge in May 1926 with its crew of Roald Amundsen, Umberto Nobile, Oscar Wisting, and others. This flight went from Spitsbergen (Svalbard) to Alaska nonstop, so there is little doubt that they went over the North Pole. Amundsen and Wisting had both been members of the first expedition to the South Pole, December 1911.

Trans-Atlantic flight, 1927

Lt. Com. Byrd and aircraft
Byrd's expedition

Byrd was one of several aviators who attempted to win the Orteig Prize in 1927 for making the first nonstop flight between the United States and France. His flight was sponsored by department-store magnate Rodman Wanamaker, an early visionary of Trans-Atlantic commercial flight. Once again Byrd named Floyd Bennett as his chief pilot, with support from Bernt Balchen, Bert Acosta, and George Noville. During a practice takeoff with Tony Fokker at the controls and Bennett in the co-pilots seat, the Fokker Trimotor airplane, America, crashed, severely injuring Bennett and slightly injuring Byrd. As the plane was being repaired, Charles Lindbergh won the prize. But Byrd continued with his quest, naming Balchen to replace Bennett as chief pilot. Byrd, Balchen, Acosta, and Noville flew from Roosevelt Field East Garden City, New York on June 29, 1927. Arriving over France, cloud cover prevented a landing in Paris; they returned to the coast of Normandy, crash-landing near the beach without fatalities on July 1, 1927.[9]

First Antarctic expedition, 1928-1930

In 1928, Byrd began his first expedition to the Antarctic involving two ships, and three airplanes: a Ford Trimotor called the Floyd Bennett (named after the recently deceased pilot of Byrd's previous expeditions); a Fairchild FC-2W2, NX8006, built 1928, named "Stars And Stripes" (now displayed at the Virginia Aviation Museum, on loan from the National Air and Space Museum); and a Fokker Universal monoplane called the Virginia (Byrd's birth state). A base camp named "Little America" was constructed on the Ross Ice Shelf and scientific expeditions by dog-sled, snowmobile, and airplane began. Photographic expeditions and geological surveys were undertaken for the duration of that summer, and constant radio communications were maintained with the outside world. After their first winter, their expeditions were resumed, and on November 29, 1929, the famous flight to the South Pole and back was launched. Byrd, along with pilot Bernt Balchen, co-pilot/radioman Harold June, and photographer Ashley McKinley, flew the Ford Trimotor to the South Pole and back in 18 hours, 41 minutes. They had difficulty gaining enough altitude, and they had to dump empty gas tanks, as well as their emergency supplies, in order to achieve the altitude of the Polar Plateau. However, the flight was successful, and it entered Byrd into the history books. After a further summer of exploration, the expedition returned to North America on June 18, 1930. A 19 year-old American Boy Scout, Paul Allman Siple, was chosen to accompany the expedition. Unlike the 1926 flight, this expedition was honored with the gold medal of the American Geographical Society.

Byrd, by then an internationally recognized, pioneering American polar explorer and aviator, served for a time as Honorary National President (1931–1935) of Pi Gamma Mu, the international honor society in the social sciences. In 1928, he carried the Society's flag during a historic expedition to the Antarctic to dramatize the spirit of adventure into the unknown, characterizing both the natural and social sciences.

Byrd's later Antarctic expeditions

Cover of Byrd's Autobiography
Byrd Antarctic expedition Commemorative Issue of 1933

Byrd undertook four more expeditions to Antarctica from 1933–35, 1939–40, 1946–47 and 1955–56.

As a senior officer in the United States Navy, Byrd, performed national defense service during World War II (1941–45), mostly as a consultant to the U.S.N. high commanders.

On his second expedition, in 1934, Byrd spent five winter months alone operating a meteorological station, Advance Base, from which he narrowly escaped with his life after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning from a poorly ventilated stove. Unusual radio transmissions from Byrd finally began to alarm the men at the base camp, who then attempted to go to Advance Base. The first two trips were failures due to darkness, snow, and mechanical troubles. Finally, Dr. Thomas Poulter, E.J. Demas, and Amory Waite arrived at advanced base, where they found Byrd in poor physical health. The men remained at advanced base until October 12, when an airplane from the base camp picked up Dr. Poulter and Byrd. The rest of the men returned to base camp with the tractor. This expedition is described by Byrd in his autobiography Alone. It is also commemorated in a U.S. postage stamp issued at the time, and a considerable amount of mail using it was sent from Byrd's base at Little America, which was powered by a Jacobs Wind 2.5 KW. Later a souvenir sheet was also issued. All of this philatelic material is readily available at modest prices.[10]

In late 1938, Byrd visited Hamburg and was invited to participate in the 1938/1939 German "Neuschwabenland" Antarctic Expedition, but declined.

Byrd's third expedition was his first one on which he had the official backing of the U.S. government. The project included extensive studies of geology, biology, meteorology and exploration. Within a few months, in March 1940, Byrd was recalled to active duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. The expedition continued in Antarctica without him. From 1942 to 1945 he headed important missions to the Pacific, including surveys of remote islands for airfields. On one assignment he visited the fighting front in Europe. He was repeatedly cited for meritorious service and was present at the Japanese surrender.

Admiral Byrd (circa 1955)

The fourth culminating expedition, Operation Highjump, was the largest Antarctic expedition to date. In 1946, US Navy Secretary James Forrestal assembled a huge amphibious naval force for an Antarctic Expedition expected to last six to eight months. Besides the flagship Mount Olympus and the aircraft carrier Philippine Sea, there were thirteen US Navy support ships, six helicopters, six flying boats, two seaplane tenders and fifteen other aircraft. The total number of personnel involved was over 4,000. The armada arrived in the Ross Sea on December 31, 1946, and made aerial explorations of an area half the size of the United States, recording ten new mountain ranges. The major area covered was the eastern coastline of Antarctica from 150 degrees east to the Greenwich meridian. The expedition was terminated abruptly at the end of February 1947, six months early, the entire remaining armada returning immediately to the United States. The only explanation ever given for the early termination of the mission was provided in an interview granted to Lee van Atta of International News Services aboard the support ship Mount Olympus on the high seas and published in the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio on Wednesday 5 March 1947. The following extracts show the abstract manner in which the admiral was thinking and may explain why conspiracy theorists specializing in alleged Aryan or Nazi activities in Antarctica have speculated extensively about this mission: "Admiral Richard E Byrd warned today of the necessity for the United States to adopt protective measures against the possibility of an invasion of the country by hostile aircraft proceeding from the polar regions. The admiral said: "I do not want to scare anybody but the bitter reality is that in the event of a new war the United States will be attacked by aircraft flying in from over one or both poles." On the subject of the recently terminated expedition, Byrd said that "the most important of the observations and discoveries made was the of the present potential situation as it relates to the security of the United States...I can do no more than warn my countrymen very forcibly that the time has passed when we could take refuge in complete isolation and rest in confidence in the guarantee of security which distance, the oceans and the poles provide. The admiral warned of the necessity to "remain in a state of alert and watchfulness". He said that he "realized perhaps better than any other person the significance of the scientific discoveries made in these explorations because I can make comparisons" (i.e. between now and when he was in Antarctica pre-war). We are abandoning the region after making important geographical discoveries."

As part of the multinational collaboration for the International Geophysical Year (IGY) 1957–58, Byrd commanded the U.S. Navy Operation Deep Freeze I in 1955-56, which established permanent Antarctic bases at McMurdo Sound, the Bay of Whales, and the South Pole.

Death

Richard Byrd died on March 11, 1957[11] in his sleep at his Brimmer Street home in Boston.[12] Admiral Byrd was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[11]

Awards, decorations, honors

Bust of Richard Evelyn Byrd by Felix de Weldon at McMurdo Station.
Byrd Memorial on Mount Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand

By the time he died, he had amassed twenty-two citations and special commendations, nine of which were for bravery and two for extraordinary heroism in saving the lives of others. In addition, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the Congressional Life Saving Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Navy Cross, and had three ticker-tape parades. He preferred to dwell on the substance of his global adventures, and the stories of those that had gone awry as lessons learned.

In 1927, the Boy Scouts of America made Byrd an Honorary Scout, a new category of Scout created that same year. This distinction was given to "American citizens whose achievements in outdoor activity, exploration and worthwhile adventure are of such an exceptional character as to capture the imagination of boys...". The other eighteen who were awarded this distinction were: Roy Chapman Andrews; Robert Bartlett; Frederick Russell Burnham; George Kruck Cherrie; James L. Clark; Merian C. Cooper; Lincoln Ellsworth; Louis Agassiz Fuertes; George Bird Grinnell; Charles A. Lindbergh; Donald Baxter MacMillan; Clifford H. Pope; George P. Putnam; Kermit Roosevelt; Carl Rungius; Stewart Edward White; Orville Wright.[13] Also in 1927, the City of Richmond dedicated the Richard Evelyn Byrd Flying Field, now Richmond International Airport, in Henrico County, Virginia. Byrd's Fairchild FC-2W2, NX8006, "Stars And Stripes" is on display at the Virginia Aviation Museum located on the north side of the airport, on loan from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Lunar crater Byrd is named after him, as was the United States Navy dry cargo ship USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE-4) and the now decommissioned Charles F. Adams-class guided missile destroyer USS Richard E. Byrd (DDG-23)

In Glen Rock, New Jersey there is Richard E. Byrd school which was dedicated in 1931. The Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio was named in honor of Admiral Byrd in 1984.

Admiral Richard E. Byrd Middle School, located in Frederick County, Va, was opened in 2005. The school is decorated with pictures and letters from Byrd's life and career. There is also a Richard E. Byrd Middle school in Sun Valley, California and a Richard E. Byrd Middle School in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

In 1958 the Richard Byrd library, part of the Fairfax County Public Library system opened in Springfield, Virginia.

Medal of Honor Citation

Rank and organization: Commander, United States Navy. Born: October 25, 1888, Winchester, Va. Appointed from: Virginia. Other Navy awards: Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with gold star, Distinguished Flying Cross.

Citation:

For distinguishing himself conspicuously by courage and intrepidity at the risk of his life, in demonstrating that it is possible for aircraft to travel in continuous flight from a now inhabited portion of the earth over the North Pole and return.

Partial List of Medals Awarded to Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, USN:

  • Medal of Honor (1926) (Rare Tiffany Cross version)
  • Navy Cross
  • Navy Distinguished Service Medal with Gold Star
  • Legion of Merit with Gold Star
  • Distinguished Flying Cross (1926)
  • Navy Commendation Ribbon
  • Congressional Silver Lifesaving Medal (1914)
  • World War Victory Medal (1918)
  • Byrd Antarctic Expedition Medal, issued in gold (1928–1930)
  • 2nd Byrd Antarctic Expedition Medal (1933–1935)
  • United States Antarctic Expedition Medal (1939–1941)
  • American Campaign Medal (1943)
  • Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal (1942)
  • European Campaign Medal
  • World War Two Victory Medal (1945)
  • Antarctic Service Medal, posthumously awarded (1960)

Family

Admiral Byrd was married (January 20, 1915) to the former Marie Donaldson Ames [he named a region of Antarctic land he discovered “Marie Byrd Land”] and had four children - Richard Evelyn Jr., (grandchildren Richard Byrd [greatgrandson Richard Byrd], Leverett S. Byrd, Ames Byrd, and Harry Flood Byrd II); Evelyn Bolling Byrd Clarke (grandchildren Evelyn Byrd Clarke, Marie Ames Clarke, Eleanor Clarke, and Richard Byrd Clarke); Catherine Agnes Byrd Breyer (grandchildren Robert Byrd Breyer and Katherine Ames Breyer); and Helen Byrd Stabler (grandchildren David Stabler and Ann Blanchard Stabler).

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Montague, Richard (1971). Oceans, Poles, and Airmen. Random House. pp. 48. 
  2. ^ Goerler, Raimund E. (1998). To the Pole: The Diary and Notebook of Richard E. Byrd, 1925-1927. Ohio State University Press. pp. 84–85, compare to p 154. 
  3. ^ New York Times, May 9, 1996, page 1; Rawlins, Dennis (January 2000). "Byrd's Heroic North Pole Failure". Polar Record (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge) 36: 25–50; see pages 33–34.  Rawlins, Dennis (January 2000). "Byrd’s Heroic 1926 Flight & Its Faked Last Leg" (PDF). DIO: the International Journal of Scientific History 10: 2–106; see page 40. http://www.dioi.org/vols/wa0.pdf. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  4. ^ Portney, Joseph (2000). "The Polar Flap: Byrd's Flight Confirmed". Litton Systems, Inc.. http://www.navworld.com/navcerebrations/polar_flap.htm.  See also Portney, Joseph (1973). "The Polar Flap: Byrd's Flight Confirmed". J.Inst.Nav 20 (3): 208–218.  and Portney, Joseph (1992). "History of Aerial Polar Navigation". J.Inst.Nav 39 (2): 255–264. 
  5. ^ Rawlins, Dennis (January 2000). "Byrd’s Heroic 1926 Flight & Its Faked Last Leg" (PDF). DIO: the International Journal of Scientific History 10: 2–106; see pages 69–76; also pages 54, 84–88, 99, 105. http://www.dioi.org/vols/wa0.pdf. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  6. ^ Ibid pp.39-41
  7. ^ Nash, Simon (2005). The Last Explorer. Hodder. pp. 149. 
  8. ^ Fairbanks (2002). Polar Extremism: the world of Lincoln Ellsworth. University of Alaska Press). Chapter 4. 
  9. ^ Check-Six.com - The Ditching of the "America"
  10. ^ Paul Skowron, "A Philatelic Introduction to B.A.E. II: The Stamps"
  11. ^ a b Admiral Richard E. Byrd-Arlington National Cemetery
  12. ^ "Admiral Byrd Dies at 68. Made 5 Polar Expeditions. Admiral Flew Over Both Poles and Helped Establish Antarctic as a Continent. Byrd Dies at 68. Polar Explorer. 5 Arctic and Antarctic Trips Provided Groundwork for U.S. Defense Concepts Frigid Testing Ground First Trip in 1928-1929. Born in Virginia. Polar Flight Eclipsed Work Under Federal Auspices.". New York Times. Oct 9, 1988. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60B14FC3D5D167B93C0A81788D85F438585F9&scp=7&sq=Richard+Evelyn+Byrd&st=p. Retrieved 2008-05-23. "Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, U.S.N., retired, the first man to fly over the North and South Poles, died in his sleep tonight at his Brimmer Street home. He was 68 years old." 
  13. ^ "Around the World". Time (magazine). August 29 1927. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,723029,00.html. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 

References

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used.

Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd (25 October 188811 March 1957) was a U.S. Naval officer, aviator, and pioneering polar explorer.

Sourced

I am hopeful that Antarctica in its symbolic robe of white will shine forth as a continent of peace as nations working together there in the cause of science set an example of international cooperation.
  • A static hero is a public liability. Progress grows out of motion.
    • As quoted in Struggle : The Life and Exploits of Commander Richard E. Byrd (1928) by Charles John Vincent Murphy, p. 325
  • If the expedition had failed, which it might well have done with all hope centered in just one plane, I should still be trying to pay back my obligations.
    • On his expedition to fly over the North Pole. His claim to have done so is now widely disputed. Skyward (1928)
  • No woman has ever stepped on Little America — and we have found it to be the most silent and peaceful place in the world.
    • As quoted in The Oakland Tribune (26 November 1955)
  • I am hopeful that Antarctica in its symbolic robe of white will shine forth as a continent of peace as nations working together there in the cause of science set an example of international cooperation.

Alone (1938)

What people think about you is not supposed to matter much, so long as you yourself know where the truth lies; but I have found out, as have others who move in and out of newspaper headlines, that on occasion it can matter a good deal.
The universe was a cosmos, not a chaos; man was rightfully a part of that cosmos as were the day and night.
The human race, my intuition tells me, is not outside the cosmic process and is not an accident. It is as much a part of the universe as the trees, the mountains, the aurora, and the stars.
The details and distractions are infinite. It is only natural, therefore, that we should never see the picture whole. But the universal goal — the attainment of harmony — is apparent.
A man doesn't begin to attain wisdom until he recognizes that he is no longer indispensable.
  • This book is the account of a personal experience — so personal that for four years I could not bring myself to write it. It is different from anything else I have ever written. My other books have been factual, impersonal narratives of my expeditions and flights. This book, on the other hand, is the story of an experience which was in considerable part subjective. I very nearly died before it was over.
    • Preface
  • That risks were involved, all of us knew; but none, so far as we could foresee, that were too great. Otherwise, as leader of a big polar expedition, and subject to all the responsibilities implicit in command, I could not have gone. That I miscalculated is proved by the fact that I nearly lost my life. Yet, I do not regret going.
    • Ch. 1
  • What I had not counted on was discovering how closely a man could come to dying and still not die, or want to die. That, too, was mine; and it also is to the good. For that experience resolved proportions and relationships for me as nothing else could have done; and it is surprising, approaching the final enlightenment, how little one really has to know or feel sure about.
    • Ch. 1
  • What people think about you is not supposed to matter much, so long as you yourself know where the truth lies; but I have found out, as have others who move in and out of newspaper headlines, that on occasion it can matter a good deal. For once you enter the world of headlines you learn there is not one truth but two: the one which you know from the facts; and the one which the public, or at any rate a highly imaginative part of the public, acquires by osmosis.
    • Ch. 1
  • Half the confusion in the world comes from not knowing how little we need.
    • Ch. 2
  • I paused to listen to the silence. My breath, crystallized as it passed my cheeks, drifted on a breeze gentler than a whisper. The wind vane pointed toward the South Pole. Presently the wind cups ceased their gentle turning as the cold killed the breeze. My frozen breath hung like a cloud overhead. The day was dying, the night being born — but with great peace. Here were the imponderable processes and forces of the cosmos, harmonious and soundless. Harmony, that was it! That was what came out of the silence — a gentle rhythm, the strain of a perfect chord, the music of the spheres, perhaps.
    It was enough to catch that rhythm, momentarily to be myself a part of it. In that instant I could feel no doubt of man's oneness with the universe. The conviction came that the rhythm was too orderly, too harmonious, too perfect to be a product of blind chance — that, therefore, there must be purpose in the whole and that man was part of that whole and not an accidental offshoot. It was a feeling that transcended reason; that went to the heart of man's despair and found it groundless. The universe was a cosmos, not a chaos; man was rightfully a part of that cosmos as were the day and night.
    • Ch. 3
  • Solitude is greater than I anticipated. My sense of values is changing, and many things which before were in solution in my mind now seem to be crystallizing. I am better able to tell what in the world is wheat for me and what is chaff. In fact, my definition of success itself is changing.
    • Ch. 6
  • If I had never seen a watch and should see one for the first time, I should be sure its hands were moving according to some plan and not at random. Nor does it seem any more reasonable for me to conceive that the precision and order of the universe is the product of blind chance. This whole concept is summed up in the word harmony. For those who seek it, there is inexhaustible evidence of an all-pervading intelligence.
    • Ch. 6
  • The human race, my intuition tells me, is not outside the cosmic process and is not an accident. It is as much a part of the universe as the trees, the mountains, the aurora, and the stars.
    • Ch. 6
  • The things that mankind has tested and found right make for harmony and progress — or peace; and the things it has found wrong hinder progress and make for discord. The right things lead to rational behavior — such as the substitution of reason for force — and so to freedom. The wrong things lead to brute force and slavery.
    But the peace I describe is not passive. It must be won.
    Real peace comes from struggle that involves such things as effort, discipline, enthusiasm. This is also the way to strength. An inactive peace may lead to sensuality and flabbiness, which are discordant. It is often necessary to fight to lessen discord. This is the paradox.
    • Ch. 6
  • When a man achieves a fair measure of harmony within himself and his family circle, he achieves peace; and a nation made up of such individuals and groups is a happy nation. As the harmony of a star in its course is expressed by rhythm and grace, so the harmony of a man's life-course is expressed by happiness; this, I believe, is the prime desire of mankind.
    "The universe is an almost untouched reservoir of significance and value," and man need not be discouraged because he cannot fathom it. His view of life is no more than a flash in time. The details and distractions are infinite. It is only natural, therefore, that we should never see the picture whole. But the universal goal — the attainment of harmony — is apparent. The very act of perceiving this goal and striving constantly toward it does much in itself to bring us closer, and therefore, becomes an end in itself.
    • Ch. 6
  • Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used.
    • CH. 7
  • A discordant mind, black with confusion and despair, would finish me off as thoroughly as the cold.
    • Ch 7
  • Part of me remained forever at Latitude 80 degrees 08 minutes South: what survived of my youth, my vanity, perhaps, and certainly my skepticism. On the other hand, I did take away something that I had not fully possessed before: appreciation of the sheer beauty and miracle of being alive, and a humble set of values. All this happened four years ago. Civilization has not altered my ideas. I live more simply now, and with more peace.
    • Ch. 12
  • A man doesn't begin to attain wisdom until he recognizes that he is no longer indispensable.
    • Ch. 12, last lines of the book.

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