Statement by David Bruce Smith, co-founder and co-inaugural judge, with Dr. Bruce Cole, of the Grateful American Book Prize on Dr. Cole’s passing

Dr. Bruce Cole was more than a scholar; he inspired all of us who came to know him. In fact, the Grateful American Book Prize was established at his urging. His death at the age of 79 came as a surprise.

He was an irreplaceable, selfless, enthusiastic advocate of young and old learners about the importance of history. He once said America was ‘a country of historical amnesiacs,’ and so, he devoted his life to reminding us that a knowledge of who we are –-individually and as a nation—was critical to having an informed and responsible citizenry.

In 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President George W. Bush, whom Dr. Cole served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The citation that accompanied the medal noted Dr. Cole had devoted his tenure to the task of strengthening our “national memory” and ensuring “that our country’s heritage is passed on to future generations.”

We mourn his passing, but with the determination to redouble our efforts and to carry on Dr. Cole’s vision with the same indefatigable tenacity—every single day.