Elbert Hubbard’s classic essay, dashed off in just a few minutes and first published in 1899, is in many respects a product of its jingoistic and boosterist times, but it still packs a certain punch today. You can read the original essay HERE. The actual eyewitness account of Lt. Andrew Rowan, the man who, at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, risked almost certain death by actually carrying a message from US President Willliam McKinley to the rebel general Calixto Garcia in the mountains of Cuba, and surviving to tell the tale, is a fascinating read in itself. The core message of the story, and Hubbard’s inspirational take on it, lies in this passage:
In instances of this kind, where one’s reputation, as well as his life, is at stake, it is usual to ask for written instructions. In military service the life of the man is at the disposal of his country, but his reputation is his own and it ought not be placed in the hands of anyone with power to destroy it, either by neglect or otherwise. But in this case it never occurred to me to ask for written instructions; my sole thought was that I was charged with a message to Garcia and to get from him certain information and that I was going to do it.
You can read the entire account HERE.