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Determination and Persistence

This is a real life story of engineer John Roebling building the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, USA back in 1870. The bridge was completed in 1883, after 13 years.


In 1883, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with the Long Island. However bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before.

Roebling could not ignore the vision he had in his mind of this bridge. He thought about it all the time and he knew deep in his heart that it could be done. He just had to share the dream with someone else. After much discussion and persuasion he managed to convince his son Washington, an up and coming engineer, that the bridge in fact could be built.

Working together for the first time, the father and son developed concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With great excitement and inspiration, and the headiness of a wild challenge before them, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge.

The project started well, but when it was only a few months underway a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling. Washington was also injured and left with a certain amount of brain damage, which resulted in him not being able to talk or walk.

“We told them so.” “Crazy men and their crazy dreams.” “It’s foolish to chase wild visions.”

Everyone had a negative comment to make and felt that the project should be scrapped since the Roeblings were the only ones who knew how the bridge could be built.

In spite of his handicap Washington was never discouraged and still had a burning desire to complete the bridge and his mind was still as sharp as ever. He tried to inspire and pass on his enthusiasm to some of his friends, but they were too daunted by the task.

As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, a gentle breeze blew the flimsy white curtains apart and he was able to see the sky and the tops of the trees outside for just a moment.

It seemed that there was a message for him not to give up. Suddenly an idea hit him. All he could do was move one finger and he decided to make the best use of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife.

He touched his wife’s arm with that finger, indicating to her that he wanted her to call the engineers again. Then he used the same method of tapping her arm to tell the engineers what to do. It seemed foolish but the project was under way again.

For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife’s arm, until the bridge was finally completed. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man’s indomitable spirit and his determination not to be defeated by circumstances. It is also a tribute to the engineers and their team work, and to their faith in a man who was considered mad by half the world. It stands too as a tangible monument to the love and devotion of his wife who for 13 long years patiently decoded the messages of her husband and told the engineers what to do.

Perhaps this is one of the best examples of a never-say-die attitude that overcomes a terrible physical handicap and achieves an impossible goal.

Often when we face obstacles in our day-to-day life, our hurdles seem very small in comparison to what many others have to face. The Brooklyn Bridge shows us that dreams that seem impossible can be realised with determination and persistence, no matter what the odds are.

• back to main page to read more: inspirational stories and motivational stories.

{ 128 comments… add one }
  • Pankaj May 23, 2012, 3:30 am

    Salute to both father and son for not give up

  • Arya Sivan May 4, 2012, 12:58 pm

    Unbelievable story. Positive thinking & determination leads to SUCCESS.

  • ARCHA May 4, 2012, 12:53 pm

    This story gives me an INSPIRATION. Thank you. Wonderful!

  • Sumit Negi April 11, 2012, 1:07 am

    It is an inspiring story and helps me another step towards my goals… thank you.

  • Gaurav Dubey April 2, 2012, 10:42 am

    It’s a great story showing that how we can achieve anything in life if we keep the hope & ignore the negative remarks given by other people. Really self confidence helps overcome any obstacle.

  • Anna March 29, 2012, 4:13 pm

    Two thumbs UP!

  • Harish March 21, 2012, 8:19 am

    It’s no need to add any comment and tell, I felt what the author wanted to be felt after reading…

  • Arthur Nnanna March 10, 2012, 8:17 am

    This is a touching story…for a moment there I couldn’t help but shed a tear…to know that all through the completion of the project his wife was there with him decoding every single mathematical term. Now that’s a wife…God help us not to let any situation snatch our dream from us…

  • Saba February 15, 2012, 11:31 pm

    Extremely inspiring…

  • Nous Infosystems February 8, 2012, 10:28 pm

    Very nice story.

  • PCm February 5, 2012, 8:59 pm

    Unfortunaley this story is not true. Good, Inspiring, but not true.

    While surveying the site of the Brooklyn tower for the Brooklyn Bridge, the tip of Roebling’s right foot was crushed by a docking boat. After his toes were amputated, Roebling was diagnosed with tetanus and developed lockjaw. He suffered severe seizures and periodically lapsed into a coma before dying in the early morning hours of July 22, 1869 in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

  • Arpit Jain January 20, 2012, 9:31 am

    That’s true…!!!!! We can achieve all our goals if we want. The only point is stay with our dream.

    Nice story…

  • AMITA January 18, 2012, 6:33 am

    Unbelievable….really wonderful. Read it again and again. I am fully charged now.

  • DivyaShri January 11, 2012, 1:33 pm

    Really, really supereb…………….. very very thanks

  • MsLiLmJ January 2, 2012, 5:29 am

    Now I know how it was made… =D thanks for the author.

  • Majdouline December 24, 2011, 8:15 am

    My God, it’s a very good story thanks alot.

  • Vikas December 20, 2011, 8:53 am

    People should go on and never loose his ambition of his life……………..

  • Naeem Tahir December 6, 2011, 7:38 am

    The most essential factor in life is persistence.

  • Shivaparvathi December 6, 2011, 2:04 am

    This strory tells life importance. If a person desires something means he can change the world. Yes everything is possible but it will take time. Great tribute to Washington and his wife and father.

  • purushotham posa November 17, 2011, 1:33 am

    Persistence and inspiration one should realise by reading this story and also habituate this type of attitude one should learn and useful for others

  • Ogwo David Emenike November 12, 2011, 12:18 am

    Hang on! Hold on! Hold fast! Persistence is genius.

  • Naveeng August 25, 2011, 8:33 am

    Great achievement…where is the will there is the way….

  • shaz August 12, 2011, 9:08 am

    nice inspirational tale……………

  • Pooja August 9, 2011, 12:18 pm

    Wow! It is a great story. Literally fight of a family to fulfill the thing which others thought as impossible. Hats off to Roeblings.

  • Joel August 9, 2011, 2:14 am

    Wow what a great site you have here. I have a 13 yr. old son who I’m teaching to deal with failures and how to fail means to be closer to victory. How Determination and Persistence can help you achieve all your life goals and most ambitious goals.

    I also loved the Determination and Persistence story of John Roebling and his son Washington. It took Washington 13 years tapping out his instructions with his finger on his wife’s arm, until the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge was finally completed.

  • Ashna Sambhar August 1, 2011, 5:17 pm

    In the fight between wave and rock on seashore, wave always wins… not because of strength but because of persistency. Don’t ever give up until you win… Be the winner.

  • Maria July 27, 2011, 11:42 pm

    Wow! I am blown away by the story. It jolts you out of your complacency and inspires you to do something great too. Tribute to John and Washington Roebling. The wife of Washington Roebling needs a special mention for her love and persistence in understanding her husbands coded taps. There is an incredible love and understanding between this two people.

  • Sarita July 22, 2011, 6:07 am

    Simply wow

  • Lyka Ricks July 17, 2011, 3:37 am

    The most essential factor is persistence – the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come. ~ James Whitcomb Riley.

  • Vijaya July 13, 2011, 8:56 am

    I just read this story for my speech but after reading this story I inspired a lot . The patience which his wife had is really amazing. Engineers always rockzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Sumit Sodhi July 3, 2011, 11:31 am

    Very nice one. I swear…. will share it with all my friends…. 🙂

  • Lakshmikanth June 29, 2011, 9:23 am

    Very good story, which inspries our engineers to do anything they dream of.

  • Parag June 16, 2011, 10:44 am

    ………superb!!!

    I think I came across this story at a very important stage of my life…… thanks for posting!

  • Santhosh Shinde June 15, 2011, 8:39 am

    Thanks for sharing this kind of real life stories. I am very much impressed.

  • divya June 9, 2011, 1:33 pm

    Very nice and inspirational…

  • Kajal June 6, 2011, 2:10 am

    Really superb…

  • raviprakash May 3, 2011, 1:28 pm

    Never let ur dream steal, no matter what. Every great achievement requires a great power.

  • Meenu Nasa April 28, 2011, 11:44 pm

    great n superb…….
    salute to the great family.

  • Naresh April 25, 2011, 11:59 pm

    Amazing story….

  • Lucas April 25, 2011, 11:38 pm

    Super father and son pair !!!

  • Parky :) P6.3 April 25, 2011, 11:27 pm

    Amazing story .. The fact that he tapped the hand for 13 years .. Must be hard for everyone in the story ..

  • GURU April 25, 2011, 5:28 am

    WONDERFUL STORY

  • susi March 25, 2011, 12:30 am

    Wow really very good….

  • pranati March 24, 2011, 1:49 am

    I have discovered a treasure of knowledge through this site. Yesterday I discovered this site just wonderful stories and real motivation for everyone.

  • Seshu March 16, 2011, 4:21 am

    It is a brilliant day for me today as i noticed this site, it has motivated me in such a way that i’m really charged up.

  • Ani Varawa March 4, 2011, 12:52 am

    This is one of the best stories I ever read. These courageous and brave people/hero really teach me not to give up but to believe in myself……………..

  • aravind February 17, 2011, 8:01 am

    hope can move mountains……

  • Turola February 10, 2011, 3:18 pm

    It is a powerful story. We as human have great capacity to make our dreams come true…

  • Phaniviajy January 21, 2011, 8:34 am

    I followed the links close to this story in Wikipedia. What was awe-inspiring about this was the determination of Emily and the way she studied under his husband’s guidance to complete the bridge.

  • Rakesh Bhawtankar December 4, 2010, 7:31 am

    Hats off! What a determination. Wow. Really very inspirable.

  • Samba Sai Kumar November 13, 2010, 12:15 pm

    Great Story, really inspired in our day to day work we will get lot demotivation but still we have to go through work accordingly that require determination and dedication. We face lot of problems but what ever we decide we have to complete then only we will succeed. Only determination will decide either success or failure.

  • Sushil November 3, 2010, 6:51 am

    No word to say about this amasing story, but someone tells that “success comes from determination,dedication and hardworking” I think that this statement is correct, which is proved by this story.

  • Mayeth November 3, 2010, 12:08 am

    Wonderful story…. True….. Burning desire has devious ways of transmuting itself into its physical reality…. Great example of determination….

  • Yogender singh phartyal October 10, 2010, 12:42 pm

    WOW!!!

    This story has filled me with enough strength that from now onwards I will NEVER BACK DOWN in my whole life, no matter what the situation is.

  • Athulya September 19, 2010, 11:42 am

    It’s nice.

  • Dramil September 19, 2010, 3:12 am

    It was a wonderful story for motivating and boosting energy in anyone.

  • Utkarsh August 22, 2010, 6:06 am

    Great Perseverance!

  • Anuj Banka August 14, 2010, 12:57 am

    It was great and heart touching story, teaching a lesson, if you have a spirit of doing something you can do it in any way either losing life or gaining the knowledge.

  • Yean Thoong August 7, 2010, 7:31 am

    Nothing is Impossible~ ^ ^

  • Bella August 5, 2010, 10:10 am

    Wow ….13 years…. it gives a great deal to think about. I’m using this in a speech competition I’m pretty sure it’s a winner!!!

  • Sandeep August 2, 2010, 8:40 am

    It is a very inpirational story to motivate the learner.

  • Anna July 26, 2010, 6:45 pm

    You can get nothing without having a desire to achieve..if I didn’t want a glass of water I will never put any efforts towards reaching it..so all you need is a desire. It’s a small word with a big meaning…

    A grand salute to John Roebling & his son…and his wife…for the great Job Done…it’s very very interesting fact!!!

  • Monica Ravisankar June 30, 2010, 4:03 pm

    Really great !!

  • Chandrashekhar n Chintalwar May 28, 2010, 1:14 pm

    This is called a burning desire. Fly. If can’t then run.. if u cant then walk.. if u cant then scroll… but dont stop just move

    Mobility is the progress and construction.

  • Vishakha May 21, 2010, 9:56 pm

    Nice awesome story. Most of us give up soon but here in the story he and his wife never give up, up to 13yrs it was awesome. We all knows this type of story but still many times our problems make us blind and forget this inspirational movement so that to such stories who always work in keeping burning the fire in hearts not to give up at all till u r in world.

  • Afolabi Olalekan May 6, 2010, 1:41 pm

    This is awesome, determination and persistence can defeat any opposition… thanks for the story!

  • Prakash May 1, 2010, 2:23 am

    very close to heart. Great….:)

  • Saurabh Wani April 14, 2010, 12:15 am

    Very very inspirational story. Must read it!!! Really determination and persistence can to us to incredible heights……..all u need is passion and zeal towards any work…….:-)

  • Hellen April 12, 2010, 12:26 pm

    This is a very inspiring story coz if it were me am sure i would have given up,but thanx 4 this article am sure to be positive at all times

  • Zogu i trembur February 25, 2010, 2:16 pm

    Inspiring story! When I read this, I felt shamefully weak of almost giving up for not finding a job. I’ll continue…

  • Sowmya February 23, 2010, 9:17 am

    Excellent, inspiring mind-blowing story. Thanks for providing such kind of real stories in this site. You are making them open to people. Hope you collect more such live stories in this site.

  • Satish Reddy January 15, 2010, 4:50 am

    Really it was an amazing story. People who sees this will definitely think of what to do in such sort of situations and will be bold enough with to move ahead with confidence.

  • gkaruna January 14, 2010, 11:18 am

    No words to say anything but everyone should know about this site. It is making me strong and strong

  • Pavan January 7, 2010, 3:36 am

    It is a very great achievement …extraordinary.

  • Lesley Toche December 6, 2009, 4:02 pm

    Wow! Absolutely impressive. It’s amazing to accomplish certain things that would be considered impossible by most regardless of the fact that plenty has been done in the light of peer opposition. Humans are capable of achieving success under circumstances that are rougher than we could finitely imagine. I had no idea by looking at the Brooklyn bridge, that it was built through such an amazing and inspiring story. We truly never know what we’re capable of until we endeavor exhibition.

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