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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.

{ 123 comments… add one }
  • 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


    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 !!!

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