The case for an Ameri’CAN’ hall of fame

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

With all the halls of fame for sports, music, heritage, and other categories, I propose we create a new gallery of fame celebrating the most outstanding AmeriCANS in history.

What, or better yet who is an AmeriCAN? AmeriCANS come from all sexes, nationalities, creeds, faiths, and colors. They were born in the United States or arrived as quickly as possible. Their commonality is living entire lives leaving legacies of their CAN-do accomplishments. None were perfect, and to a person, they overcame adversity and setbacks, reaching their highest AmeriCAN achievements.

Since Jamestown and Plymouth, and before, our forebears blazed trails, forged rivers, and built the most prosperous country in the history of the world. While progress wasn’t nor is linear, advances overcame setbacks in pursuit of a “more perfect union,” as was implored in the Declaration of Independence.

Celebrating the AmeriCAN-do spirit is needed more than ever today because of the AmeriCANT attacks on our All-American culture of chasing individual dreams, relentless pursuit of our hopes, and perseverance over and through all discouragement. Rewarding individual initiative and effort serve as a positive example of encouraging emulation and inspiring success, and that benefits everyone.

Yes, there are nominees on my list below that we celebrate in many other ways, but a more significant number of people we may not know deserve appropriate recognition. Your hometown hero is the person or persons that make a big difference but never get much of an attaboy for their efforts. A big part of being an AmeriCAN is that most of them wouldn’t want the praise anyway; that’s not why they do what they do in the first place.

One note about my initial nominee list; I don’t particularly appreciate naming buildings or other monuments after those living, as we’ve seen incidents necessitating those accolades being rescinded after significant transgressions (I’m looking at you, Bill Cosby). Therefore, my nominees have completed their lives on earth.

So, here’s my inaugural list of nominees for the AmeriCANS Hall Of Fame, in no particular order. Let the debate begin! Who was omitted that you think should make the list? Who is on the list that should go? My objective and hope are to put forth an almost endless list, and just maybe, to inspire you to chase your dreams with the same vigorousness as the honorees and with as much success!


The AmeriCANS Hall of Fame Class Of 2023

  • George Washington – No list would be credible without beginning with the father of our country. His perseverance through the darkest days of the American Revolution was indispensable in our independence. Citizens revered him so significantly he could have been king or president for life. His servant leadership and limit to two terms as president set an example honored for 150 years.
  • Madam C.J. Walker- The first African American woman self-made millionaire building a cosmetics company in the 19th century. Born in 1867, she overcame racism, sexism, a lack of education, and poverty. Upon her success, she mentored the next generation and was a philanthropist.  We have a biopic about Tonya Harding and not this lady?
  • Helen Keller – She lost her sight and hearing at 19 months but demonstrated what one could achieve despite physical disabilities.
  • Stephen Jobs – Founder of Apple Computer Corporation, built the first computers in his garage.
  • Hedy Lamarr – Yes, the actress, but she also invented frequency hopping benefitting WIFI, GPS, and Bluetooth. Her inventions contributed to victory in World War II and the 21st-century technology of today and tomorrow.
  • Billy Graham – Evangelist and counselor to 12 U.S. presidents
  • Pat Tillman – Bravely walked away from his NFL pro football career to serve during the early days of the War On Terror and lost his life in Afghanistan
  • Mark Twain – Author and speaker who brought out the best of America in his stories.
  • Sacagawea – Essential guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition across America.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. –Pastor and civil rights leader who significantly influenced the advancement of people of color through non-violent means
  • Alan Sheppard – First U.S. astronaut in space, and later walked on the moon
  • Amelia Earhart – The famed aviator was the first woman to solo across the Atlantic
  • Thomas Edison – A prolific inventor, including the electric light bulb, the phonograph, the motion picture camera, the rechargeable battery, and many more.


Richard Battle, a fifth-generation Texan, honors these and many others in his latest book AmeriCANS in Made in America by AmeriCANS not AmeriCANTS, as well as Navigating Life’s Journey, Conquering Life’s Course, and other works.  Visit him online at


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