The Program

When Thomas Jefferson envisioned the future of the Republic he was helping to create in 1776, he understood that the enterprise would certainly fail if the United States should ever cease in its production of citizens of virtue, or lose the capacity for civic selflessness, generosity, and sacrifice. Since that time, many Americans such as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., or Clara Barton and Sojourner Truth, have demonstrated civic virtue, and have thus furthered the continuing American experiment in democracy that was initiated by the founders.

The Pitt-Johnstown Great Americans Day Citizenship Forum is an annual series of programs focused on the lives and contributions of a wide range of great Americans.  This series is intended to help us all remember that this experiment in democracy is not yet over, and that we all need to work individually and collectively to extend it further than the founders ever dreamed possible.

Each year, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, in coordination with various secondary schools from the Johnstown area, and the friends of Howard M. Picking III will invite a scholar to our community to make a public presentation concerning the life of one Great American in the month of February, between George Washington's and Abraham Lincoln's birthdays.  A different Great American will be featured in the series each year.  The program is intended to bring together University faculty, staff, and students, local secondary school students and educators, local business people, and the Western Pennsylvania general public to not only honor a Great American in observance of "Great Americans Day," but to engender an ongoing discussion about what all of us can do to be better citizens in the community of mankind.  By focusing on the triumphs, trials, and tribulations in the lives of outstanding citizens, we hope to spark introspection into our own.

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